Functional projection: how fundamental social motives can bias interpersonal perception.


Results from 2 experimental studies suggest that self-protection and mate-search goals lead to the perception of functionally relevant emotional expressions in goal-relevant social targets. Activating a self-protection goal led participants to perceive greater anger in Black male faces (Study 1) and Arab faces (Study 2), both out-groups heuristically associated with physical threat. In Study 2, participants' level of implicit Arab-threat associations moderated this bias. Activating a mate-search goal led male, but not female, participants to perceive more sexual arousal in attractive opposite-sex targets (Study 1). Activating these goals did not influence perceptions of goal-irrelevant targets. Additionally, participants with chronic self-protective and mate-search goals exhibited similar biases. Findings are consistent with a functionalist, motivation-based account of interpersonal perception.

DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.88.1.63

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@article{Maner2005FunctionalPH, title={Functional projection: how fundamental social motives can bias interpersonal perception.}, author={Jon K. Maner and Douglas T. Kenrick and D Vaughn Becker and Theresa E Robertson and Brian Hofer and Steven L. Neuberg and Andrew W . Delton and Jonathan Butner and Mark Schaller}, journal={Journal of personality and social psychology}, year={2005}, volume={88 1}, pages={63-78} }