Stereotype Activation and Inhibition

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

suggests that spontaneous suppression was not instigated merely by the knowledge of the target's race. It is likely that the instructions to avoid stereotyping made personal norms against stereotyping the members of that racial group particularly salient. This may have sensitized these participants to avoid using the stereotype in evaluating other members of the group. Thus, when these participants were presented with a second target of the same race, they may have been careful to form an individuated impression of him, thereby obscuring any effects of the previously activated stereotype.

These data suggest two important modifications to Bodenhausen and Macrae's model. First, they show that suppression-induced rebound effects are not inevitable. Rebound effects can be avoided when individuals are motivated (and presumably have the capacity) to engage in controlled processing. Second, they suggest that the rebound effects such as those demonstrated in Macrae et al. ( 1994) might be more accurately considered under the guise of social, rather than personal, control. When individuals are instructed to suppress stereotypes that they do not strongly reject, they may cease engaging in the controlled processing necessary to avoid stereotyping when they no longer believe they must. Rebound effects in this case reflect the weakening of normative demands rather than a failure to maintain personal standards.


CONCLUDING COMMENTS

I hope that these comments reflect my sympathy with the basic model proposed by Bodenhausen and Macrae, and they were offered in the hope that they might help in the continued development of the model. The model's recognition of facilitatory and inhibitory factors in social stereotyping represents a major advancement, and I suspect that the model will be influential in the years ahead. What is yet needed is (a) stronger evidence regarding lateral inhibition in social categorization and (b) greater flexibility in considering how normative and personal factors might influence all stages of the stereotyping process.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT

I would like to thank Jeff Sherman for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this chapter.

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