Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Characteristics of Social Categorization Based on Variations in Gender and Age

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Characteristics of Social Categorization Based on Variations in Gender and Age

Article excerpt

Psychologists generally believe that perceivers process a target automatically and rapidly according to age, gender, race, occupation, and other social categories (Maner, Miller, Moss, Leo, & Plant, 2012). We questioned if it is possible that the combined information from multiple social categories could trigger an automatic processing. Considerable controversy exists with regard to whether the processing triggered by each subcategory of multiple social categories is fully automated, conditionally regulated, or even inhibited. Some researchers hold that social categorization occurs automatically and unconditionally (Devine, 1989). However, others indicate that it is restricted by certain factors, such as cognitive resources (Casper, Rothermund, & Wentura, 2010) and social contexts (Barden, Maddux, Petty, & Brewer, 2004).

In previous studies, scholars have found that perceivers might activate one or more subcategories and inhibit other competing subcategories. For example, Sinclair and Kunda (1999) found when the instruction was "The black doctor gives positive feedback," participants activated the occupation category (doctor) and inhibited the race category (black) while being faced with black faces. However, if participants got negative feedback, they would activate the race category (black) and inhibit the occupation category (doctor). Rydell, McConnell, and Beilock (2009) also asserted that different social categories could be activated or inhibited in different contexts. When presented with a female's poor performance in mathematics, the gender category (female) was activated and the educational background category (university student) was inhibited. Conversely, presented with a female's good performance in mathematics, the category of educational background (university student) was activated and the gender category (female) was inhibited.

As mentioned above, numerous researchers have confirmed the existence of an effect of selective priority processing, or inhibition, when perceivers process multiple social categories embodied in faces. This is presumed to result from the different automatic processing levels among the multiple social subcategories. In order to further clarify the characteristics of multiple social categorization, we selected gender and age as two primordial social subcategories that are seen daily in faces. Wiese, Schweinberger, and Neumann (2008) argue that, as primordial social categories, age categorization and gender categorization are both processed automatically.

Notably, participants in previous studies were almost exclusively university students, and older people were rarely analyzed. Hills and Lewis (2011) found that the perceiver's age plays a vital role in face cognition, and Ebner and Johnson (2009) demonstrated that older people were less capable of judging facial expressions than younger people were. Voelkle, Ebner, Lindenberger, and Riediger (2012) indicated that younger persons were more accurate than older ones were in assessing the age of faces. Similarly, the perceiver's gender also has an important significance in face cognition. Megreya, Bindemann, and Havard (2011) found that females had some advantage in face recognition. However, in some studies, researchers indicated that males also had certain advantages in recognizing male faces (Ino, Nakai, Azuma, Kimura, & Fukuyama, 2010).

Few researchers have explored what happens to categorization when the subcategories vary and that, therefore, is what motivated our study. We employed Garner's (1974) selective attention paradigm to determine which properties of some simple nonsocial categories, such as shape and color, independently occupy their own processing dimension. If selective attention is effective in the presence of irrelevant variation, the categories can be considered independent; otherwise, the categories follow a pattern of integrality. We focused on investigating whether or not perceivers concentrated on a specific target's social subcategory while ignoring variation in the other, irrelevant, target's social subcategory. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.