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  • ANRV331-PS59-13 ARI 4 November 2007 20:34

    Spontaneous Inferences,Implicit Impressions,and Implicit TheoriesJames S. Uleman, S. Adil Saribay,and Celia M. GonzalezDepartment of Psychology, New York University, New York, New York 10003;email: jim.uleman@nyu.edu, adil@nyu.edu, cmg250@nyu.edu

    Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2008. 59:32960

    First published online as a Review in Advance onSeptember 12, 2007

    The Annual Review of Psychology is online athttp://psych.annualreviews.org

    This articles doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.59.103006.093707

    Copyright c 2008 by Annual Reviews.All rights reserved

    0066-4308/08/0203-0329$20.00

    Key Words

    automaticity, causality, folk psychology, traits, embodiedcognition, personhood

    AbstractPeople make social inferences without intentions, awareness, or ef-fort, i.e., spontaneously. We review recent findings on spontaneoussocial inferences (especially traits, goals, and causes) and closely re-lated phenomena. We then describe current thinking on some of themost relevant processes, implicit knowledge, and theories. These in-clude automatic and controlled processes and their interplay; embod-ied cognition, including mimicry; and associative versus rule-basedprocesses. Implicit knowledge includes adult folk theories, condi-tions of personhood, self-knowledge to simulate others, and culturaland social class differences. Implicit theories concern Bayesian net-works, recent attribution research, and questions about the utility ofthe disposition-situation dichotomy. Developmental research pro-vides new insights. Spontaneous social inferences include a growingarray of phenomena, but they have been insufficiently linked to otherphenomena and theories. We hope the links suggested in this reviewbegin to remedy this.

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  • ANRV331-PS59-13 ARI 4 November 2007 20:34

    Contents

    INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 330IMPLICIT IMPRESSIONS . . . . . . . . . 330

    Inferences Based on Faces . . . . . . . . 331Inferences Based on Behaviors . . . . 331Inferences Based on Relational

    Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 334OTHER SPONTANEOUS SOCIAL

    INFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 335Spontaneous Goal Inferences . . . . . 335Spontaneous Counterfactuals

    and Contradictions . . . . . . . . . . . . 335Spontaneous Belief Inferences . . . . . 335Spontaneous Value Inferences . . . . . 336Broader Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 336

    BASIC PROCESSINGDICHOTOMIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 336Automatic Versus Controlled

    Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 336Abstract, Amodal, Disembodied

    Cognition Versus Situated,Modal, Embodied Cognition . . . 338

    Associative Versus Rule-BasedProcesses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 339

    ADULT FOLK THEORIES . . . . . . . . 340Malles Model of the Folk Theory

    of Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 340Degrees of Personhood . . . . . . . . . . . 340Simulation or Social Projection . . . 341Cultural, Subcultural, and Social

    Class Differences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 343Other Implicit Theories . . . . . . . . . . 343

    IMPLICIT CAUSAL THEORIES . . 344Bayesian Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 344Causal Relations in Recent

    Attribution Research . . . . . . . . . . 345The Correspondence Bias and the

    Fundamental AttributionError . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 346

    DEVELOPMENTALANTECEDENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347Infants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347Toddlers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 348

    INTRODUCTION

    Over the past 20 years, evidence has grownthat much, if not most, social behavior is gov-erned by implicit, even automatic processes:implicit attitudes, inferences, goals and the-ories, and the affect and behaviors they pro-duce (e.g., Bargh 2007, Hassin et al. 2005a).This has transformed our views of how peo-ple understand others. During the late 1960sand 70s, research on understanding others fo-cused on self-reports of attributions of causal-ity and responsibility. Then social cognitionfamously engulfed the field, using personmemory paradigms and studies of errors andbiases to understand how we process infor-mation about others. These approaches con-tinue to yield rich rewards and have becomepart of normal science in social psychology.More recently, researchers in several otherfields (developmental and cognitive psychol-ogy, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind)have made exciting theoretical and empiricaladvances that shed new light on social psy-chologys oldest questions; these researchersoften call their work social cognition, with-out reference to social psychology.

    Within social psychology, spontaneous so-cial inferences and implicit impressions ofothers have been widely documented. Theyoccur and affect downstream events withoutour awareness or intentions. This review sur-veys the most recent work as well as some ofthe most important developments in relatedfields to suggest how they point to new direc-tions for research on implicit impressions. It isbeyond the scope of this brief review to con-sider other important related topics such asstereotyping (Major & OBrien 2005), emo-tional intelligence (Mayer et al. 2008), accu-racy in person perception (Kenny 2004), andsocial neuroscience (e.g., Lieberman 2007,Todorov et al. 2007).

    IMPLICIT IMPRESSIONS

    Implicit impressions of other people are notopen to self-report. They include implicit

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  • ANRV331-PS59-13 ARI 4 November 2007 20:34

    attitudes toward others, implicit knowledgestructures, implicit theories, and implicit be-havioral tendencies. Uleman et al. (2005) de-scribed the wide range of evidence for the ex-istence of implicit impressions, the ways inwhich they occur and have effects automat-ically, how they affect trait judgments of oth-ers, how the effects of simultaneous implicitand explicit impressions can be empiricallydistinguished, and how they may relate to er-rors in judging how well one knows someone,stereotypes, and ingroup/outgroup percep-tions. We update that review in several areas.

    Inferences Based on Faces

    Faces play a special role in social perception,allowing us to easily distinguish individuals,establish mutual gaze, and infer social cat-egory, identity, emotion, and psychologicaland physical traits, as well as the interdepen-dence of attributes (Zebrowitz 2006, p. 663,in Bodenhausen & Macrae 2006). Here wehighlight recent findings most relevant to ourmain theme.

    Social categories are extracted from facesvery early in processing (Ito & Urland 2003),even when the faces are irrelevant to the taskor presented suboptimally (e.g., inverted). Butspontaneous categorization of faces may re-quire a conceptual/semantic goal in the fo-cal task (Macrae et al. 2005). Category-basedconstrual of faces seems to be more efficientthan identity-based construal (i.e., individu-ation), and this may underlie peoples heavyreliance on categories in person perception(Cloutier et al. 2005). Personality traits canbe inferred after 100 ms exposure to faces,though confidence increases and target im-pressions become more differentiated withmore time (Willis & Todorov 2006). Per-ceivers judgments of competence, after onlyone-second exposures to pairs of political can-didates faces, predict real-world election out-comes and margins of victory (Todorov et al.2005).

    Physiognomic information from faces af-fects interpreting other (verbal) information

    Social categories:those extracted mostefficiently includeage, gender, and race

    Spontaneous traitinferences (STIs):unintended,unconscious, andrelatively effortlessinferences of traits

    about actors (reading from faces), and in-formation about actors personalities affectsperception of their faces (reading into faces)(Hassin & Trope 2000). Social categories areread into categorically ambiguous static faces(Eberhardt et al. 2003, Huart et al. 2005) andinto dynamic facial expressions of emotions(Hugenberg & Bodenhausen 2003).

    Impressions are also affected by subtle fa-cial resemblances. When a connectionist net-work, trained to distinguish anomalous andbaby faces from normal adult faces, was pre-sented with novel normal adult faces, the ex-tent to which anomalous and baby-face out-put units became activated (i.e., the extent towhich the network confused normal faceswith anomalous or baby faces) predicted hu-man judges trait impressions of these faces.The similarity of faces from particular cate-gories (e.g., elderly) to anomalous and babyfaces may partially explain stereotypes of thosepeople (e.g., unhealthy and weak, respec-tively) (Zebrowitz et al. 2003). Faces withmore Afrocentric features attract more atten-tion in the context of African American stereo-type concepts (Eberhardt et al. 2004) and areseen to have more stereotypic African Ameri-cans attrib