Stereotype Content: The Speed Of Mental State Inferences

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dominic Ysidron (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Andrew Monroe

Abstract: Humans have the unique ability to infer mental state information by observing other’s behavior. Recent work by Malle and Holbrook (2012) demonstrated that the ease and speed with which people make such mental state inferences is hierarchically organized. Inferences of intentionality are fastest, followed by desire, belief, and personality. The present work seeks to replicate this hierarchy and extend it by examining how social stereotypes facilitate mental state inferences. Utilizing the Stereotype Content Model (SCM, Fiske et al., 2002), the present study aimed to determine whether perceived warmth and competence would moderate the speed which people make mental state inferences. Additionally, due to the primacy of warmth, we predicted that the effect of perceived warmth be larger than the effect of competence. The present study, manipulated three fully-crossed, within-subject factors: inference type (intentionality, desire, belief, personality), warmth stereotype (high/low), and competence stereotype (high/low). The results largely replicated previous hierarchical findings. Moreover, we show that the hierarchy is robust across levels of targets’ perceived warmth and competence, which showed no significant effects. Future research should aim to account for the possible relationship between social desirability and warmth, so as not to support nor refute the schema of that agent’s social group.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Ysidron, D. (2018). "Stereotype Content: The Speed Of Mental State Inferences." Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2018
Social cognition, attribution, theory of mind, mental state inference, stereotype content

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