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This is a preprint of this manuscript, version dated June 11th, 2018 (date will updated with preprint, old versions documented by OSF). Project data and analysis materials are available online: https://osf.io/2uzsx/. Abstract: Psychologists have noted the resemblance across social cognitive models, where trait perceptions center on others’ intentions and abilities (e.g., competence, warmth). Current views posit this common ‘trait space’ originates from these dimensions’ adaptive utilities, predicting a relatively fixed and universal architecture. In contrast, we hypothesize perceiver conceptual trait associations, learned from the actual correlation structure of human personality, shape impressions similarly across social domains. For instance, if perceivers conceptually believe kind people are intelligent, they will tend to perceive kind faces, familiar others, or social groups to be more intelligent. The present study tested this hypothesis, finding that the trait structures of face impressions, person knowledge, and group stereotypes are strongly correlated with that of conceptual associations and actual personality structure. These findings suggest learned conceptual associations underlie a common trait space in social cognition, and raise the possibility that trait space is dynamic rather than fixed in nature.
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