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Decategorization refers to a process of reducing the salience of ingroup–outgroup distinctions. An important consequence is that negative behaviors associated with ingroup–outgroup distinctions, such as prejudice, stereotyping, and intergroup discrimination, are also diminished. When a category distinction is particularly salient, people act and think in terms of ingroup–outgroup memberships rather than in terms of personal identities. This type of social categorization has two consequences. First, outgroup members are depersonalized, treated as relatively interchangeable and undifferentiated elements of a social category; their individual characteristics are ignored, and group-based appraisals, such as stereotypes, are used to judge them. Second, intergroup distinctiveness is enhanced, thus facilitating competition and discrimination. Given this situation, decategorization should have beneficial consequences for social interactions.

Three Aspects of Decategorization: Individuation, Differentiation, and Personalization

Individuation reduces ...

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