Group impressions as dynamic configurations: The tensor product model of group impression formation and change. Academic Article uri icon


  • Group impressions are dynamic configurations. The tensor product model (TPM), a connectionist model of memory and learning, is used to describe the process of group impression formation and change, emphasizing the structured and contextualized nature of group impressions and the dynamic evolution of group impressions over time. TPM is first shown to be consistent with algebraic models of social judgment (the weighted averaging model; N. Anderson, 1981) and exemplar-based social category learning (the context model; E. R. Smith & M. A. Z├írate, 1992), providing a theoretical reduction of the algebraic models to the present connectionist framework. TPM is then shown to describe a common process that underlies both formation and change of group impressions despite the often-made assumption that they constitute different psychological processes. In particular, various time-dependent properties of both group impression formation (e.g., time variability, response dependency, and order effects in impression judgments) and change (e.g., stereotype change and group accentuation) are explained, demonstrating a hidden unity beneath the diverse array of empirical findings. Implications of the model for conceptualizing stereotype formation and change are discussed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2000