Dual Character Concepts in Social Cognition: Commitments and the Normative Dimension of Conceptual Representation

Cognitive Science 41 (S3):477–501 (2017)
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The concepts expressed by social role terms such as artist and scientist are unique in that they seem to allow two independent criteria for categorization, one of which is inherently normative. This study presents and tests an account of the content and structure of the normative dimension of these “dual character concepts.” Experiment 1 suggests that the normative dimension of a social role concept represents the commitment to fulfill the idealized basic function associated with the role. Background information can affect which basic function is associated with each social role. However, Experiment 2 indicates that the normative dimension always represents the relevant commitment as an end in itself. We argue that social role concepts represent the commitments to basic functions because that information is crucial to predict the future social roles and role-dependent behavior of others.

Author Profiles

Guillermo Del Pinal
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Kevin Reuter
University of Zürich


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