The Psychology of Stereotyping

By David J. Schneider | Go to book overview

Preface

This book has taken a long time to get from my desk to yours. I began work on the manuscript about 15 years ago, and both I and the publisher had assumed I would produce a tidy manuscript in a couple of years. Well, as I discovered, there is nothing tidy about the area of stereotyping.

There were times during this process when I had the distinct sense that people were producing relevant research papers faster than I could read them. As I put the final touches on this book, I have a working bibliography of well over 10,000 books, chapters, and papers, and I am sure I could generate another 5,000 or so by looking in more obscure places and by broadening my definition of stereotypes even slightly. I have not cited most of those materials, and it has been frustrating to have to cut out many, especially older, references.

This book documents major changes that have taken place in the ways we think about stereotypes and affiliated notions such as prejudice and discrimination. People who were studying stereotypes, say, 40 or 50 years ago were often wrong in the ways they thought about the area, but the older papers were forged in a quite different intellectual and political milieu than my own and may well have been as legitimate for their time as our present perspectives are for ours. Moreover, as someone who takes very seriously the history of psychology, I am well aware that what seems clear to me and my generation will seem naive, even wrong, 40 or 50 years from now.

But here it is. My family will be happy it is done, and my students can quit asking, "Is your book done yet?" (My colleagues quit asking a decade ago.) It has been the most intellectually rewarding effort of my life, but whether it is the best others will have to judge. My hope, of course, is that the book will be useful not only to my fellow scholars in both stereotyping and broader areas but also to students and even brave lay folks. Most of what most people (including a good many social scientists) think about stereotypes is at best slightly askew, and at worst simply wrong. In saying this I do not speak from a position of intellectual certainty or arrogance. I am not a bit sure that we know enough yet to know what's right, but we do know what's wrong. It is my hope that a book that summarizes what we do know will carry our les

-ix-

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