Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Tiffany A. Ito

Second Advisor

Bernadette Park

Third Advisor

Irene Blair


This research explores the neural correlates of categorical and individuated impressions. Categorical impressions are based on social categories, such as gender, race, and age. For category impressions, stereotypes and prejudices inform the gestalt impression. Individuated impressions are those based on personal and unique information. Impression formation models posit that individuated impressions require attention to the individual, but this attention is thought to occur in a deliberative fashion overtime. Although attention overtime facilitates individuation, attention within a split second of an encounter may also contribute to individuated impressions. This research seeks to link early selective attention to individuals, as indexed by neurological electrical activity, with both category-based and individuated impressions. To assess this, two studies were conducted. The first assessed the relationship between individual differences in spontaneous attention to individuals and spontaneous use of individuating information. Replicating previous work, category-based attention differences were observed within 120 ms of viewing a target. At the N200, an electrical component indexing deeper encoding of a stimulus, there was a trend for the more individuals attend to ingroup members then outgroup members, the more they use race when making predictions about behavior. Additionally, there was a trend for the more attention to targets at the N200 in general, the more individuals use individuating information when making predictions about behavior. A second study aimed at increasing depth of encoding at the N200 to outgroup targets, by asking participants to put themselves in the shoes of an outgroup and an ingroup member (first-person perspective) or to think about an ingroup and outgroup member from a third-person perspective. When encoding individuals from a first-person perspective, depth of encoding, as indexed by N200s, of ingroup and outgroup members was similar. When encoding individuals from a third-person perspective, depth of encoding was greater for an ingroup member than for an outgroup members. Consequents and interpretations are discussed.