What is on Your Mind? Motivated Social Inreference in Intergroup Contexts

Lun, Janetta Ho-Yan, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Sinclair, Stacey, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

The present research examines how people make inferences about others' mental states in intergroup interaction, particularly when they are motivated to get along with an out-group member (i.e., have affiliative motivation). Three experiments were designed to examine whether the experience of affiliative motivation influenced the degree to which people infer the mental state of another person based on group-based knowledge (e.g., stereotypes) versus self-knowledge (i.e., what the self would do), and whether this relative use of group-based versus self-based inference may depend on the evaluative implications of a given inference strategy. It is hypothesized that because affiliative motivation evokes people's desire to see their interaction partner positively, this motivation should encourage the given inference strategy to the extent that the resulting inference is positive in nature. Concomitantly, affiliative motivation should inhibit the inference strategy when the strategy implies negative perceptions of the partner. When the predominant inference strategy is suppressed, people should resort to the other strategy. The examination of motivated social inference is consistent with growing research interest in how people make inferences in intergroup contexts to better understand the process by which people form expectations and behave in intergroup interaction.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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