Varieties of inhibition in Social Stereotyping
Steven J. Stroessner Barnard College, Columbia University
It is always a pleasure to read a paper written by Bodenhausen, Macrae, and their colleagues. They are among the most productive and influential researchers in the area of stereotyping, and their papers typically exhibit several admirable characteristics. They show how recent theoretical arguments and methodological advancements can be used to resolve longstanding questions in the field, and they demonstrate how ambitious theoretical ideas can be tested with elegant and deceptively simple experiments. Finally, the papers themselves are written in a lucid, engaging, and witty style. Each of these characteristics is reflected in the target chapter.
Beyond possessing these characteristics, the chapter is notable for its ambitious scope and integrative approach. Here, Bodenhausen and Macrae offer a model of inhibitory and facilitatory processes in stereotyping. Such a model is beneficial in two respects. First, by focusing on factors that inhibit and facilitate stereotyping, the authors have offered a framework for organizing a literature that has verged on being cumbersome. Effects ranging from response latencies for stereotypical information to stereotype suppression to reactance against "political correctness" can be discussed within the same chapter because the focus is placed on the common processes that might underlie these phenomena. Second, the model provides a guide for future research in the area. Bodenhausen and Macrae bemoan the lack of theoretical integration in the field of social psychology,