ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (1): 141-148.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.00141

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The characteristics, dimensions and psychological effect of social categorization

ZUO Bin1, WEN Fangfang1(), SONG Jingjing2, DAI Taotao1   

  1. 1 School of Psychology, Center for Studies of Social Psychology, Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior, Ministry of Education, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
    2 Institute of Applied Psychology, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430070, China
  • Received:2017-10-18 Online:2019-01-15 Published:2018-11-23


Social categorization is a subjective process in which an individual classifies others into groups based on perceived similarities. Social categories are often automatic, flexible and multifaceted, including dimensions of both natural cues (such as gender, age and race) and social cues (such as language, occupation and social status). In such multidimensional social categories (e.g., “rich old celibate bachelor”), some of the constituent categorical dimensions contribute disproportionately to the traits attributed to the category overall. This is termed the “dominant dimension effect,” and is influenced by the valence of the dimensions. Different dimensions will also interact with each other, resulting in a cross-categorization effect. We review these effects in the context of social categorization, and highly important questions that remain for social psychologists interested in processing mechanism of social categorization from the perspective of observer, actor and social situation.

Key words: social categorization, psychological characteristics, dimensions of cues, dominant dimension effect, cross categorization

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