Social cognition: Categorical person perception


Requests for reprints should be addressed to Neil Macrae, Department of Experimental Social Psychology, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1TN, UK (e-mail:


In attempting to make sense of others, perceivers regularly construct and use categorical representations (e.g. stereotypes) to streamline the person perception process. A debate that has dominated recent theorizing about the nature and function of these representations concerns the conditions under which they are activated in everyday life. The present article reviews this work and considers the automaticity of category activation in person perception.