Controversies, Questions, and Prospects for Spontaneous Social Inferences



Three decades of research on spontaneous social inferences, particularly traits, have settled some questions and generated more. We describe that research in terms of these controversies and questions. If you think you know the story, read on because it continues to surprise all of us. It deals with such broader issues as automatic and controlled processing, the nature of meaning, causality, stages of forming inferences about others, the role of consciousness, and differences between implicit and explicit impressions. Evidence on neurological substrate is growing. Spontaneous inferences continue to be a useful tool for illuminating impression formation processes.