The Psychology of Stereotyping

By David J. Schneider | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
Content of Stereotypes:
Other Categories

This chapter considers a range of other social categories that give rise to stereotypes. The collection may seem a potpourri, and in some respects it is. However, there are some commonalities. It is assumed that people more or less deliberately "join" most of the groups in these categories. For example, my occupation, hair style, and use of a nickname may have little in common, except that others may reasonably assume that each results from choices that reveal something about me. As always, behavior that is assumed to reflect conscious choice says a lot about a person—or so we believe.

Also, for the most part, the stereotypes of these groups—with some notable exceptions—are fairly uncontroversial. No one seems to mind much if I express stereotypes of doctors as caring, professors as naive about finances, or women who dress in business suits as ambitious. Of course, in each case there will be exceptions, and there are always voices telling us that not all members of a group are alike. But often people display the cues that give rise to the stereotypes precisely because they want to create a particular impression. They adorn their bodies, homes, and offices in ways designed to create impressions based on stereotypes.


PHYSICAL FEATURES

We have many ways of learning about new people, but for most of us the most salient way is through direct face-to-face contact—where we will immediately have access to cues about race, gender, and age, and, if the person speaks, possibly cues to ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and degree of education. Face-to-face contact also provides a wealth of additional cues that are bases for stereotypes (Zebrowitz, 1996). We may notice hair color and facial complexion, as well as the person's body type, height, and weight. We may notice whether a woman is wearing cosmetics, or whether a

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