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Eliot Smith, PhD: Person Perception as Socially Distributed Cognition



Person perception, a core topic of social psychology, has always been studied in the context of a single perceiver receiving information about another person. But in everyday life, perceivers exchange information about their impressions of others through gossip.  Thus, person perception is a socially distributed process, whose output is a (more or less consensual) reputation of the target person as well as mental representations in individual perceivers’ minds. A theoretical model of socially distributed person perception, empirical findings on some of the component processes, and a simplified multi-agent model will be presented.


Eliot R. Smith (Ph.D. 1975, Harvard University) is Chancellor’s Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, Bloomington. His publications include From prejudice to intergroup emotions (with Diane M. Mackie; Psychology Press, 2002) and Embodied Grounding (with Gün R. Semin; Cambridge University Press, 2008).  Current research examines person perception as a socially distributed process carried out by groups of perceivers. He has served as Editor of Personality and Social Psychology Review (2000-2005) and is Incoming Editor of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition.