Whatever people are doing may be interpreted in a variety of ways, and exactly the same act may be seen differently by various people. I believe that were it not for this fascinating ambiguity, psychology would not be needed at all. Of course, we know that information activation (priming) is the basic mechanism underlying diverging and changing interpretations. But were it the sole mechanism, peoples’ interpretations and experience would be chaotic and unpredictable, since every concept could be activated and influence what people can see.
Trying to find some order here, I have looked for default options of the mind (the interpretations of humans that are routinely made unless some specific goal recruits categories relevant for the goal). In this work, I have (re)discovered two basic dimensions of social cognition – the communal one (warmth – whether the observed person is good or bad, moral or immoral, social vs. antisocial) and agentic one (whether the person is competent or incompetent, efficient or inefficient in pursuing those good or bad goals). These two dimensions appear to be independent and are ubiquitous in social cognition – in the perception of persons, the self, social groups and institutions. The two content areas are also processed in different ways, so the differences should not be averaged away. Whereas communal content dominates perceptions of others, agentic content dominates self-perception, including self-esteem.
Pursuing these issues, I became a professor of psychology, currently at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities (Dean of Sopot Campus). I have also served as an Associate Editor of the European Journal of Social Psychology (2002-2005) and as a member of the Executive Committee of European Association of Social Psychology (2005-2011).
Should you need more information, please feel free to contact me.