Effects of culture and processing goals on the activation and binding of trait concepts

Michael A. Zárate, James S. Uleman, Corrine I. Voils

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two studies compared spontaneous trait use by Latinos and Anglo-Americans, with trait-implying behaviors equated over cultures on their intentional trait implications. In Study 1, only Anglos showed activation of trait concepts on a lexical decision task. In Study 2, with the more complex stimuli set, Anglos showed greater binding (linkage) of trait concepts and/or behaviors to the actors performing the behaviors. Results were consistent with the more frequent use of trait terms by Euro-Americans than by those from collectivist cultures, especially in open-ended self-descriptions and causal explanations, and illustrate the value of investigating activation and binding as two separable stages of spontaneous trait inference. The results also show that spontaneous inferences can reveal cultural differences that intentional inferences do not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-323
Number of pages29
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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