Interpersonal Competition Can Cause Individuating Processes

Janet B. Ruscher, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Two experiments investigated whether competitors attend to and individuate opponents. Interdependence theories predict that people individuate others on whom their outcomes depend rather than stereotyping them; this has been tested for cooperative but not for competitive interdependence. Competition separates such phenomena as unit formation in cooperation from interdependence per se, posited to be the crucial variable. In two experiments, Ss expected to compete or not compete with a competent or incompetent fictitious subject. Ss commented into a tape recorder about the person's attributes, some inconsistent and some consistent with expectations. As predicted, competitors (a) increased attention to inconsistencies, (b) drew more dispositional inferences about inconsistencies, and (c) formed more varied impressions. The role of competition in undercutting expectancy-based impressions and intergroup vs. interpersonal competition are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832-843
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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