Tales from the brain: Are trait- and stereotype-related processing different?

Laurens Van Der Cruyssen, Elien Heleven, Ning Ma, Frank Van Overwalle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)

Abstract

Recent findings indicate that processing trait-related information generates a different pattern of brain
activation than the processing stereotype-related information. In this fMRI-study we explicitly compared the
processing of both trait- and stereotype-related information. 18 participants judged the applicability of a
description with respect to a trait or a stereotype prime. These behavioral sentences varied on both valence
and consistency with regard to the prime. We predicted that judging the applicability of behaviors to
stereotypes would increase activation in mentalizing brain areas more than judging the applicability of
behaviors to personality traits, because stereotypes encompass a larger number of individuals with more
variation and less communality than a single personality trait. Stated differently, stereotypes involve more
associative links with individuals exemplary members of groups and situations in which they typically behave,
and so lead to higher involvement of the mentalizing areas that connect all this information. As predicted, the
results demonstrate that applicability judgments based on stereotypes activate mentalizing areas more
strongly than those based on traits, including a large portion of the medial prefrontal cortex as well as the
temporo-parietal junction and precuneus. This is about equally true for behavioral descriptions that are
consistent or inconsistent with the judged trait or stereotype.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTalk at the European Social Cognition Network 2: Transfer of knowledge conference 5-9 September Estoril, Portugal.
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2012
EventUnknown -
Duration: 5 Sep 2012 → …

Conference

ConferenceUnknown
Period5/09/12 → …

Keywords

  • social neuroscience
  • social categories
  • personality traits
  • fMRI

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