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The Impact of Perceived Entitivity on Inconsistency Resolution for Groups and Individuals

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/jesp.1999.1387
  • Medicine


Abstract Previous research has indicated that differences in perceived target entitivity influence the degree to which information about a group or individual is processed online. The current set of studies examines whether perceptions of entitivity are also associated with differences in the content of impressions formed of groups and individuals. Specifically, if perceptions of high entitivity motivate perceivers to seek coherence in a target, impressions of individual (high-entitivity) targets should be characterized by greater resolution of behavioral inconsistencies than impressions of group (low-entitivity) targets. Study 1 provided evidence for this hypothesis by demonstrating that perceivers were more likely to apply restrictive diagnosticity schemas to resolve inconsistent behaviors in a predicted direction when the target was an individual than when the target was a group. Two additional studies were conducted to determine the specific aspect of target entitivity that produced these results: perceiver expectations about the similarity and consistency of a target's behaviors (Study 2) and perceiver expectations about the unity of a target's intentions and goals (Study 3) were manipulated and the resulting impressions were examined. The results suggest that perceptions of unity in a target's intentions and goals underlie the assumptions of entitivity and the obtained impression effects.

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