Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Gordon B. Moskowitz
Many psychological terms have meanings similar to how those terms are used in everyday language. Such is the case with assimilation, which a plain old English dictionary defines as to absorb, digest, and integrate (usually into a culture), making disparate people/items similar. Its use in social psychology (across separate content domains) is similar; assimilation means that when a person observes and interprets other people, groups of others, or even the self, a variety of things are observed, and one of those observed items will draw to it, or absorb, the others, thus shaping and molding the meaning of the others. The term was first used in social psychology by Fritz Heider in 1944 when describing interpersonal perception. When judging a person's behavior (trying to interpret what one has observed the person do), knowledge of that person's personality matters greatly. The personality colors one's interpretation of that person's behavior (so that ...