Stereotype Activation and Inhibition

By Robert S. Wyer Jr. | Go to book overview

cussed by Bodenhausen and Macrae critically determine whether or not the powerful express stereotypic judgments. Normative pressures can affect judgment standards regarding stereotype acceptance or rejection, influencing interpretation as well as response. As Social Judgeability Theory argues, people will only express those judgments they feel comfortable expressing ( Leyens et al., 1992).

If social pressures reject stereotyping, the powerful should inhibit both their biased interpretive processes and biased responses. Preliminary evidence suggests this to be the case ( Goodwin & Fiske, 1996b). Priming the powerful to think about egalitarian values leads them to attend to counterstereotypic information. Other values and standards for judgment should operate similarly. For example, powerholders who perceive their peers as unbiased may inhibit their own tendency to stereotype. Given the hierarchical nature of relationships marked by power, most powerful people are themselves dependent on someone else for their own outcomes. When the highest levels of institutional power advocate unbiased judgment, all individuals within the hierarchy have a personal investment in suppressing their stereotypes. This argument may have important implications for organizational settings, as outcome dependency reliably attenuates stereotypic impression formation ( Erber & Fiske, 1984; Neuberg & Fiske, 1987; Ruscher & Fiske, 1990).


CONCLUSION

Our main reaction on reading the target chapter was to wish we had written it ourselves. However, endorsement makes for boring commentary, so we have devoted this comment to pushing the boundaries of the Bodenhausen-Macrae model, expanding it to consider both societal and interpersonal forms of power (control), which each operate at all three stages of the model. More power to them.


REFERENCES

Adorno T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik E., Levinson D. J., & Sanford R. N. ( 1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper & Row.

Allport G. W. ( 1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Bargh J. A. ( 1997). "The automaticity of everyday life". In R. S. Wyer Jr. (Ed.), Advances in social cognition (Vol. 10, pp. 1-62). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Blair I. V., & Banaji M. R. ( 1996). "Automatic and controlled processes in stereotype priming". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70,1126-1141.

Clare T., & Fiske S. T. ( 1998). "A systemic view of behavioral confirmation: Counterpoint to the individualist view". In C. Sedikides, J. Schopler, & C. Insko (Eds.), Intergroup cognition and intergroup behavior (205-301). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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