Mind-reading in strategic interaction: The impact of perceived similarity on projection and stereotyping

Daniel R. Ames, Elke U. Weber, Xi Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


In social dilemmas, negotiations, and other forms of strategic interaction, mind-reading-intuiting another party's preferences and intentions-has an important impact on an actor's own behavior. In this paper, we present a model of how perceivers shift between social projection (using one's own mental states to intuit a counterpart's mental states) and stereotyping (using general assumptions about a group to intuit a counterpart's mental states). Study 1 extends prior work on perceptual dilemmas in arms races, examining Americans' perceptions of Chinese attitudes toward military escalation. Study 2 adapts a prisoner's dilemma, pairing participants with outgroup targets. Study 3 employs an ultimatum game, asking male and female participants to make judgments about opposite sex partners. Study 4 manipulates perceived similarity as well as counterpart stereotype in a principal-agent context. Across the studies, we find evidence for our central prediction: higher levels of perceived similarity are associated with increased projection and reduced stereotyping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-110
Number of pages15
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


  • Competition
  • Cooperation
  • False consensus
  • Perceived similarity
  • Perceptual dilemma
  • Social dilemma
  • Social projection
  • Stereotyping


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