Stereotype Content and Features
Let's imagine a conversation between the Obnoxious Psychologist (OP) and a man named John, who is a supervisor in a small manufacturing plant. John has just decided to fire one of his employees, Claire, because of a poor work record that he attributes to laziness. OP has just asked John why he thinks Claire is lazy.
JOHN: Well, she just is. It's not hard to see.
OP: Oh, I don't doubt what you say. I'm just trying to be a psychologist here. Your assessment just seems like a vague generalization to me. Do you mean to say that Claire is always lazy?
JOHN: No, of course not. Sometimes she works hard just like my other employees.
OP: Would you say that more than half her behaviors are lazy?
JOHN: (Thinks for a moment) No, I guess not. Probably less than half.
OP: A lot less?
JOHN: I guess so. But I really don't want to be pinned down here. It's not like she's lazy all the time, you know. She has her good days and her bad days. But she certainly doesn't perform up to standards like the other people do.
OP: So when you say she is lazy, you are really comparing her to other people. You seem to be saying that she is more lazy than other workers.
JOHN: That's exactly what I'm saying.
OP: Could you give me some examples of how Claire is lazier than most?
JOHN: Sure. It's not hard. We have to document that sort of thing these days, you know. Well, for starters, she simply doesn't produce as much as most of the other workers. I admit that there are a couple who produce even less than she does, but one has only been working for a couple of weeks, and the other is somewhat retarded. We took him on as a kind of experiment, and it's still too