Prototypes in person perception

Nancy Cantor, Walter Mischel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

622 Scopus citations


The chapter provides a brief glimpse on the various theoretical and empirical approaches taken to study person categories and categorization. The chapter provides a comprehensive and representative survey of the literature on person perception and social cognition emerging from other laboratories. Interest in the issues of category accessibility has been renewed recently as cognitive-social psychologists attempt to understand the person categorization process. The chapter discusses the nature of categories at different level of abstractions. The prototype approach, prototypicality rules (full view and the restricted view), and from prototype to social behavior is also discussed. Knowledge about person prototypes not only makes information processing easier, it also helps the perceiver to plan behavior in social interactions. It is easier to process information about characters that fit well with and are, therefore, prototypical of shared beliefs about various personality types. Character prototypicality was manipulated in a free-recall and personality impression paradigm through variations in the consistency of a character's identification with preexisting beliefs about two personality-type categories-extraversion and introversion. The chapter discusses the purpose, the goals and functions of person categorization, the nature of categories at different levels of abstraction, and determining prototypicality in detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-52
Number of pages50
JournalAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1979
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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