This is the seventh volume of the Advances in Social Cognition series. From its inception, the purpose of the series has been to present and evaluate new theoretical advances in all areas of social cognition and information processing. An entire volume is devoted to each theory, allowing for its evaluation from a variety of perspectives and examination of its implications for a wide range of issues.
The series reflects two major characteristics of social cognition: the high level of activity in the field and the interstitial nature of the work. Each volume contains a target chapter that is timely in its application, novel in its approach, and precise in its explication. The target chapter is followed by a set of companion articles that examine the theoretical and empirical issues raised by the target. These latter chapters are written by authors with diverse theoretical orientations, representing various disciplines within psychology and, in some cases, entirely different disciplines. Target authors are then given the opportunity to respond to the comments and criticisms of their work and to examine the ideas conveyed in the comparison chapters in light of their own. The dialogue created by this format is both unusual and, we believe, extremely beneficial to the field.
In the initial volume of this series (published in 1988), Marilynn Brewer presented a general formulation of person impression formation integrating numerous theoretical and empirical issues that had not previously been considered in the field of social cognition. The present volume returns to this area with an even more detailed conceptualization of person impressions and the processes that give rise to their construction. In the words of its author, Donal Carlston, the target chapter provides "a comprehensive