Perceiving individuals and groups as coherent: How do perceivers make sense of variable behavior?

Jason E. Plaks, Jeffrey Sherman, Yuichi Shoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An actor may display inconsistent behavior across different situations (e.g., conscientious in one situation, nonconscientious in another) and yet still be perceived as a coherent person. How do perceivers accomplish this? To investigate this question, in two experiments, participants read about a target person whose behavior across eight situations varied randomly or covaried systematically with goal-relevant situations. In Experiment 1, although the two targets displayed equivalent amounts of variability, participants (a) found the systematic target more coherent and (b) were more likely to associate the systematic target with an underlying goal. In Experiment 2, this finding was extended to group targets but, as expected, not to low entitativity groups, suggesting that participants make such inferences only when there is an a priori expectation of coherence. These findings indicate that the target's goal is an important component of perceived coherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-60
Number of pages35
JournalSocial Cognition
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

Perceiving individuals and groups as coherent : How do perceivers make sense of variable behavior? / Plaks, Jason E.; Sherman, Jeffrey; Shoda, Yuichi.

In: Social Cognition, Vol. 21, No. 1, 01.02.2003, p. 26-60.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{71c8a86f9f144332a92d678fb8ad9164,
title = "Perceiving individuals and groups as coherent: How do perceivers make sense of variable behavior?",
abstract = "An actor may display inconsistent behavior across different situations (e.g., conscientious in one situation, nonconscientious in another) and yet still be perceived as a coherent person. How do perceivers accomplish this? To investigate this question, in two experiments, participants read about a target person whose behavior across eight situations varied randomly or covaried systematically with goal-relevant situations. In Experiment 1, although the two targets displayed equivalent amounts of variability, participants (a) found the systematic target more coherent and (b) were more likely to associate the systematic target with an underlying goal. In Experiment 2, this finding was extended to group targets but, as expected, not to low entitativity groups, suggesting that participants make such inferences only when there is an a priori expectation of coherence. These findings indicate that the target's goal is an important component of perceived coherence.",
author = "Plaks, {Jason E.} and Jeffrey Sherman and Yuichi Shoda",
year = "2003",
month = "2",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1521/soco.21.1.26.21191",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "21",
pages = "26--60",
journal = "Social Cognition",
issn = "0278-016X",
publisher = "Guilford Publications",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Perceiving individuals and groups as coherent

T2 - How do perceivers make sense of variable behavior?

AU - Plaks, Jason E.

AU - Sherman, Jeffrey

AU - Shoda, Yuichi

PY - 2003/2/1

Y1 - 2003/2/1

N2 - An actor may display inconsistent behavior across different situations (e.g., conscientious in one situation, nonconscientious in another) and yet still be perceived as a coherent person. How do perceivers accomplish this? To investigate this question, in two experiments, participants read about a target person whose behavior across eight situations varied randomly or covaried systematically with goal-relevant situations. In Experiment 1, although the two targets displayed equivalent amounts of variability, participants (a) found the systematic target more coherent and (b) were more likely to associate the systematic target with an underlying goal. In Experiment 2, this finding was extended to group targets but, as expected, not to low entitativity groups, suggesting that participants make such inferences only when there is an a priori expectation of coherence. These findings indicate that the target's goal is an important component of perceived coherence.

AB - An actor may display inconsistent behavior across different situations (e.g., conscientious in one situation, nonconscientious in another) and yet still be perceived as a coherent person. How do perceivers accomplish this? To investigate this question, in two experiments, participants read about a target person whose behavior across eight situations varied randomly or covaried systematically with goal-relevant situations. In Experiment 1, although the two targets displayed equivalent amounts of variability, participants (a) found the systematic target more coherent and (b) were more likely to associate the systematic target with an underlying goal. In Experiment 2, this finding was extended to group targets but, as expected, not to low entitativity groups, suggesting that participants make such inferences only when there is an a priori expectation of coherence. These findings indicate that the target's goal is an important component of perceived coherence.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0043025304&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0043025304&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1521/soco.21.1.26.21191

DO - 10.1521/soco.21.1.26.21191

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0043025304

VL - 21

SP - 26

EP - 60

JO - Social Cognition

JF - Social Cognition

SN - 0278-016X

IS - 1

ER -