Monday October 14, 2013
3-4:30pm
SSM 117 (Wawona)

Professor Kerri Johnson

Title: Categorization at the Crossroads: Mechanisms by Which Intersecting Identities Alter Social Perception

Social categorization – the tendency to perceive others in terms of their social category memberships – is often based on minimal cues in the face and body of others that we observe. Research on social categorization has tended to isolate a single social category dimension (e.g., sex) while holding other dimensions constant (e.g., race and age). Yet natural targets of social perception fall into multiple social categories simultaneously, and little is known about how the perception of one social category may systematically bias the perception of other social categories. The aim of this talk is to shed light on the processes that bias perception of others that fall into multiple social categories simultaneously (i.e., intersectionality). I will describe two routes by which perceptual biases occur. A bottom-up route to intersectional biases in social perception occurs when phenotypic cues for various social categories overlap, resulting in a systematic bias in judgments. A top-down route to intersectional biases in social perception occurs when stereotype content among various social categories overlap (e.g., stereotypes for “Black” and “Men” both include strong, aggressive, etc.), also resulting in a systematic bias in judgments. I will present data suggesting that both of these possibilities operate routinely – leading the perception of one social category to bias the perception of other social categories and impacting real world outcomes. This perspective will enhance our understanding of the biases in social perception – ranging from the production and perception of cues for social category membership to their ultimate impact on interpersonal behavior.

Bio: Kerri Johnson is an Associate Profesor in the department of psychology at UCLA. She works in the area of social psychology. She has published a book on people watching with Oxford University Press and numerous articles.