AST makes an unarguably important contribution to social cognition theory. It provides a much needed example of how parallel distributed processing and neuropsychology have implications that we ignore to our own detriment. We have focused on two interesting implications of AST -- cross-level activation and range of activation-and have mentioned areas where these concepts might apply. In addition, we have noted that, although impressive, AST raises some difficult questions and predicts some seemingly unlikely cognitive processes. Even so, AST illuminates a truly promising and exciting direction for the development of social cognition. We hope that pointing out some of these questions serves to further psychology's development in this direction.
We have likened psychological theories to fishing nets designed to "catch" phenomena. Fishing in the stream of thoughts and their processes, we psychologists often design our nets to catch the phenomena that interest us most. When our goal is to catch the large, complicated phenomena, we may risk letting the small ones get away. In our view, AST runs this risk.
This work was partially supported by NIMH grant 41801 to Susan Fiske. Thanks to Karen-Jo Van Manen and Eric Coats for reviewing earlier versions of this manuscript.
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Publication information: Book title: Associated Systems Theory:A Systematic Approach to Cognitive Representations of Persons. Contributors: Robert S. Wyer - Editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Place of publication: Hillsdale, NJ. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 97.