The present research investigated the influence of group-related evaluative associations on the process of impression formation. In particular, we expected the impact of a target's category membership on the construal of ambiguous behaviour to be moderated by perceivers' evaluative associations related to the target category. Associative strength was further expected to have an indirect effect on dispositional inference, mediated by its impact on behaviour identification. Results support both of these assumptions. Moreover, the influence of evaluative associations on impression formation was not moderated by perceivers' motivation to control prejudiced reactions. Rather, motivation to control moderated only the relation between evaluative associations and the explicit endorsement of prejudiced beliefs about the target group in general, such that explicit prejudice endorsement was correlated with evaluative associations only for perceivers low, but not for those high in motivation to control. Implications for prejudice control are discussed. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.