Smith, E. R., Coats, S., & Walling, D. (1999). Overlapping mental representations of self, in-group, and partner: Further response time evidence and a connectionist model. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 873-882.
People's reports on their own characteristics are facilitated by matches with their relationship partner's or in-group's perceived characteristics and inhibited by mismatches. These results suggest that mental representations of the self, partner, and in-groups overlap. A previously untested implication is that judgmental facilitation or inhibition should operate in the reverse direction as well. We find that reports on the characteristics of a relationship partner or in-group are facilitated or inhibited by matches or mismatches with the participant's own characteristics. The size of the effect for the partner is linearly related to perceived relationship closeness. These findings in combination with the previous ones suggest that representations of self, other people, and social groups are constructed on-line rather than being stable, static entities, and we advance a connectionist model of this construction process.