Stereotypes as Explanations: The Formation of Meaningful Beliefs about Social Groups

By Craig McGarty; Vincent Y. Yzerbyt et al. | Go to book overview

Stereotypes as Explanations

Stereotyping is one of the biggest single issues in social psychology but relatively little is known about how and why stereotypes form. Stereotypes as Explanations is the first book to explore the process of stereotype formation, the way that people develop impressions and views of social groups. Conventional approaches to stereotyping assume that stereotypes are based on erroneous and distorted processes, but the authors of this book take a very different view; namely that stereotypes form in order to explain aspects of social groups and in particular to explain relationships between groups. In developing this view, the authors explore classic and contemporary approaches to stereotype formation and advance new ideas about such topics as the importance of category formation, essentialism, illusory correlation, interdependence, social reality and stereotype consensus. They conclude that stereotypes are indeed explanations but they are nevertheless highly selective, variable and frequently contested explanations.

CRAIG MCGARTY is Reader in Psychology at the Australian National University. He is author of Categorization and Social Psychology (1999), co-author with Alex Haslam of Doing Psychology (1998), and editor of The Message of Social Psychology (1997).

VINCENT Y. YZERBYT is Professor of Social Psychology at the Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. He is coauthor, with Jacques-Philippe Leyens and Georges Schadron, of Stereotypes and Social Cognition (1994), and co-editor, with Guy Lories and Benoit Dardenne, of Metacognition: Cognitive and Social Dimensions (1998).

RUSSELL SPEARS is Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. He is co-editor, with Penny Oakes, Naomi Ellemers and Alex Haslam, of The Social Psychology of Stereotyping and Group Life (1997) and, with Naomi Ellemers and Bertjan Doosje, of Social Identity: Context, Commitment, Content (1999).

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