Social categorization, visual cues, and social judgements



Recent research on social cognition suggests that lifelike visual and vocal information about a person may strongly mediate the impact of prior social categorical knowledge on social judgements. Other research, however, on the contribution of visual cues to impression formation, suggests that they have relatively little impact. This study sought to resolve these conflicting findings by examining the effect of visual cues on social judgements when subjects possess prior social categorical knowledge varying in salience to the experimental task. Videotaped target interviews were monitored by observers in either sound and vision or sound only, and measures were taken of the targets' perceived personality, their ‘actual’ and ‘predicted’ social performance, and social acceptance by observers. Whilst salience of categorization strongly influenced the quality of judgements, visual cues had little if any effect. However, visual cues strongly influenced subjects' confidence in all three sets of judgements, sound and vision subjects being consistently more confident than their sound only counterparts. The findings are discussed in relation to previous research in both social cognition and visual cues.