Attention and weight in person perception: The impact of negative and extreme behavior

Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


People constantly form impressions and make evaluations of others. Consider the problem of hiring a research assistant or selecting a roommate. How do we go about evaluating each applicant? Obviously, we cannot fully appreciate each complex individual. Human beings present rich stimuli to an observer, and cognitive economy necessitates shortcuts. Categorization, for example, allows perceivers to apply prior knowledge about certain types of people to the perception of new ones (e.g., Allport, 1954; Bruner, 1973; Cantor & Mischel, 1979; Taylor, 1980a; Wyer, 1974). This allows information to be stored efficiently; in the case of interviewing job applicants, an employer can remember that this one came from Big Ivy University and that one from Backwater College and further that each applicant had the various credentials implied by their respective alma maters. Another illustrative cognitive shortcut is the much-researched attribution of dispositional consistency (Heider, 1944, 1958; Jones & Davis, 1965; Jones & Nisbett, 1972; Kelley, 1967, 1972; Ross, 1977). Attributing stable traits to another person allows the perceiver to predict that future behavior will be much like the present. If a job applicant is relaxed and friendly in the interview, a prospective employer usually infers that those attributes will extend to behavior on the job.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Cognition
Subtitle of host publicationSelected Works of Susan Fiske
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781351739641
ISBN (Print)9781138734333
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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