Categorical effects on attributional inferences: A response-time analysis

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Smith & Miller (1983), utilizing a response-time methodology, demonstrated that perceivers make judgements of intentionality and of an actor's traits spontaneously in the comprehension of social information. In contrast, judgements of causation were shown to take significantly longer. It was argued, therefore, that causal judgements are mediated by more basic trait and intentionality inferences. These earlier findings, however, failed to consider the category membership of the actor as an important determinant of the speed with which a range of attributional inferences can be made. The present study, therefore, examined the effects of category activation on the speed with which perceivers can make various social judgements. Results supported the prediction that subjects have differential access to causal information depending upon the categorical consistency of behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-245
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1991


  • causal attribution
  • information
  • stereotypes
  • instigation
  • memory
  • model


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