Stereotype Activation and Inhibition

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

11
An inhibited Model of Stereotype Inhibition

Charles Stangor Erik P. Thompson University of Maryland

Thomas E. Ford University of Western Michigan

The goal of the target chapter is to propose a new model of stereotyping designed to "account for a range of stereotyping phenomena by appealing to a reasonably parsimonious set of basic principles and cognitive processes" (p. 1). The proposed processes include activation and inhibition, as well as personal control and social control. The chapter is informative in that it reviews and summarizes existing literature in the field. The proposed model is heuristic, because it unifies a number of lines of existing research under the inhibition rubric. Most importantly many of the predictions of the proposed model are supported with an enviable wealth of truly exceptional experimental data. These data show, among other things, that perceiver-driven inhibition normally takes effort, impacts a wide variety of measures, can itself become automatic, and yet is often doomed to failure.

Because the data are so powerful, there is really little to critique about them. Therefore, we limit ourselves to discussing the accompanying model. This model is situated squarely within the social-cognition tradition, and follows a standard information-processing approach. Three stages of stereotype processing are proposed: The first, "initial categorization and stereotype activation," is based on the idea that some social categories are

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