Social categorization and person memory: The pervasiveness of race as an organizing principle

Miles Hewstone, Alexander Hantzi, Lucy Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Two studies investigated the pervasiveness of race as a social categorization and whether the organization of information around racial categories is sensitive to contextual factors. Both studies measured accentuation effects (more intra‐ than inter‐race errors) and own‐group bias (fewer confusions between own‐ than other‐group members) in person memory, using the paradigm developed by Taylor, Fiske, Etcoff and Ruderman (1978). Experiment 1 studies the generalization of these effects across ethnic group membership (black/white) and topic (categorization‐relevant/irrelevant) in a 2 × 2 [× 4] between‐subject design, with type of error as a repeated measure. There was a highly significant accentuation effect, which was not affected by either topic or group membership. Experiment 2, using white subjects only, manipulated anticipated future interaction/no interaction, which affected overall accuracy/error rate, but not the strong accentuation effect. Neither study found any support for an own‐group bias. Results are discussed in terms of the automaticity of race as a basis for social categorization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-528
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


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