Smith, E. R., Fazio, R. H., & Cejka, M. A. (1996). Accessible attitudes influence categorization of multiply categorizable objects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 888-898.
Every person or object can be categorized in multiple ways. For example, a person can be categorized (and stereotyped) by gender, age, race, or occupation. Earlier research demonstrated that visible objects toward which people have highly accessible attitudes attract attention. We therefore hypothesized that categories toward which people have highly accessible attitudes are preferentially applied to multiply categorizable objects. Three experiments support the hypothesis using cued recall and categorization response time dependent variables. Categories toward which people's attitudes had been rendered accessible were more readily recalled when multiply categorizable objects served as a cue, and could more quickly be verified as fitting the object. These results suggest the power of accessible attitudes in shaping categorization and judgmental processes