Intergroup Relations

By Walter G. Stephan; Cookie White Stephan | Go to book overview

who are not representative of the group in other ways (e.g., are atypical in terms of demographic characteristics) ( Weber & Crocker, 1983). Subtyping may be particularly likely if members of a disliked group engage in disconfirming behavior that is unusually positive. They may then be grouped together as "exceptions to the rule" ( Pettigrew , 1979b). For example, older men who are active in public affairs may be subtyped as "elder statesmen" ( Brewer, Dull, & Lui, 1981).

One problem with creating subtypes is that they leave the original stereotype unchanged and thus do not benefit the people who continue to be categorized as members of the larger group. Also, subtyping may not be beneficial if the subtypes that are created have stereotypes that are no more positive than the previously existing stereotypes. Kanter ( 1977) found that women in organizational settings dominated by men were subtyped into groups such as "seductress," "pet," and "iron maiden," all of which were associated with negative characteristics. Another study found that young Whites' subtypes of African Americans, such as "ghetto Blacks" and "welfare Blacks," were viewed at least as negatively as the group as a whole ( Devine & Baker, 1991).

Substituting superordinate categories for categories lower in the hierarchy may be useful in reducing the impact of stereotypes ( Sherif, Harvey, White, Hood, & Sherif, 1961). When superordinate categories (e.g., the human race) are evoked, former outgroup members (e.g., people from other countries) become members of a more encompassing ingroup. In effect, this reappraisal converts the entire outgroup into a subtype within the superordinate group. Cooperative interaction involving members of different subgroups has been shown to produce identification with the larger group ( Gaertner, Mann, Dovidio , Murrell, & Pomare, 1989; Gaertner, Mann, Murrell, & Dovidio, 1989). To illustrate, reminding ethnic subgroups that they are all part of one national group may reduce the tendency to use ethnic stereotypes, if the national affiliation is important to all the ethnic groups.


Altering Biased Labeling

When acknowledged differences between groups exist, the stereotype cannot be changed by eliminating the links between the category and the associated traits. In instances such as these, however, the labeling of the trait can be changed. For instance, the British might have fewer problems interacting with Americans if they could view the Americans' behavior as friendly and sociable, instead of intrusive and

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