The Perception of the Other in International Relations: Evidence for the Polarizing Effect of Entitativity



In an international relations context, the mutual images held by actors affect their mutual expectations about the Other's behavior and guide the interpretation of the Other's actions. Here it is argued that the effect of these images is moderated by the degree of entitativity of the Other—that is, the extent to which it is perceived as a real entity. Two studies tested this hypothesis by manipulating the entitativity of the European Union (EU) among U.S. citizens whose images of the EU varied along the enemy/ally dimension. Results of these studies yielded converging evidence in support of the hypothesized moderating effect of entitativity. Specifically, entitativity showed a polarizing effect on the relationship between the image of the EU and judgments of harmfulness of actions carried out by the EU.