Intra-personal conflicts affect inter-personal perceptions
Internal conflicts (e.g., pitting professional success against personal life) are prevalent in everyday life. Previous research has often conceptualized conflicts as aversive states associated with negative consequences, from impaired decision-making to stress and ill-being. I will take a more cognitive approach and argue that intra-personal conflicts can activate a general reasoning process (i.e., a procedural mindset) that fosters the consideration of alternatives and in turn carries consequences for perceptions in the inter-personal domain. I will present evidence showing that across various activations of intra-individual conflicts there is a systematic change in inter-personal perceptions, including perspective taking, stereotype deactivation, and accuracy judgments of ingroup and outgroup members’ attitudes. I will further examine the mechanism underlying this effect, suggesting that an expansion of cognitive breadth is a key element. I will suggest that the framework developed in the present research is generative for determining how self-focused, intra-personal processes can be capitalized on to alter inter-personal perceptions and in turn facilitate social change.