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Abstract

The extent to which a set of people is perceived as a meaningful group, as one entity, is called entitativity. In this paper, we propose that there are two qualitatively different group construals, or ways of thinking, about groups: as dynamic groups or as categorical groups. Two experiments investigated this distinction. An analogy was used to induce these construals by having participants think of the same group (the group “bees”) either dynamically (as the interacting members of a hive) or categorically (as the members of the species). We then gave participants information about a social group and assessed the impact of the construal manipulation on how that information was processed. Study 1 showed that perceivers recall and report different perceptual cues (similarity and interaction characteristics, respectively) when groups are thought of in these different ways. Study 2 showed that judgments of entitativity are differentially based on a group's similarity versus interaction under these different group construals. The results suggest that group construals change the properties on which entitativity is based. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.