Skorich, Daniel Paul
In this thesis, I revisit the relationship between categorization and cognitive resources, and the notion that categorization is a simpler, easier, and more efficient process than individuation. I explore the debate between the motivated tactician and meaning seeker perspectives, drawing on work in the cognitive load domain, and at the pre-cognitive level of incoming sensory data. I discuss the apparent resolution of this debate in the work of Klauer and his colleagues, before entirely...[Show more] re-framing the issue in terms of confounds underlying the concepts of categorization and individuation. I argue that categorization and individuation have been defined and operationalized in terms of four dimensions: a group/person dimension, a memory-based/data-driven dimension, a chunked/unchunked dimension, and a featural/configural dimension. I discuss how the group/person dimension has been conceptualized as the defining dimension, with which each of the remaining three dimensions is made to co-vary in the social cognition literature. I suggest that these covariations are a contrivance within the field, and that each of them has important consequences for empirical evidence purporting to demonstrate the privileging of categorization over individuation under cognitive load, and for evidence purporting to demonstrate the relative ease with which categorization can be invoked at both the cognitive and perceptual levels. I present five experiments that disentangle each of the dimensions from the group/person dimension. In the first empirical chapter, Chapter 3, I present three experiments that unconfound the group/person dimension from the memory-based/data-driven dimension in a typical cognitive load paradigm. In the second empirical chapter, Chapter 4, I present two experiments, the first of which unconfounds the group/person dimension from the chunked/unchunked dimension, and the second of which unconfounds the group/person dimension from the featural/configural dimension, both in a face processing paradigm. Taken together the results of these five experiments demonstrate that group processes are not privileged under cognitive load, and that group processes are no more or less efficient than person processes, even at the earliest stages ofthe processing stream. In Chapter 5, I outline the implications of the expenments reported in the two preceding chapters for the continuum model of impression formation, which leads to an expansion of that model and the creation of the continuum model of impression formation and stereotype formation. In the final chapter, discuss the implications of these results for the cognitive resources framework of the motivated tactician perspective, for the debate between the motivated tactician and meaning seeker perspective, and for conceptualizations of the process of categorization. I conclude this thesis with a discussion of the novel idea that persons are categories, and with a number of suggestions for future research.
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