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      Nomina sunt omina: On the inductive potential of nouns and adjectives in person perception.

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          Abstract

          Six studies (N = 491) investigated the inductive potential of nouns versus adjectives in person perception. In the first 5 studies, targets were either described by an adjective (e.g., Mark is homosexual) or by the corresponding noun (e.g., Mark is a homosexual) or by both (Study 3). The authors predicted and found that nouns, more so than adjectives, (a) facilitate descriptor-congruent inferences but inhibit incongruent inferences (Studies 1-3), (b) inhibit alternative classifications (Study 4), and (c) imply essentialism of congruent but not of incongruent preferences (Study 5). This was supported for different group memberships and inclinations (athletics, arts, religion, sexual preference, drinking behavior, etc.), languages (Italian and German), and response formats, suggesting that despite the surface similarity of nouns and adjectives, nouns have a more powerful impact on person perception. Study 6 investigated the inverse relationship, showing that more essentialist beliefs (in terms of a genetic predisposition rather than training) lead speakers to use more nouns and fewer adjectives. Possible extensions of G. R. Semin and K. Fiedler's (1988) linguistic category model and potential applications for language use in intergroup contexts are discussed.

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          Author and article information

          Contributors
          Journal
          Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
          Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
          American Psychological Association (APA)
          1939-1315
          0022-3514
          May 2008
          May 2008
          : 94
          : 5
          : 839-859
          Article
          10.1037/0022-3514.94.5.839
          18444742
          5fb0ba0a-a81b-4c9a-8368-017a8d792bf1
          © 2008
          History

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