Stereotype Accuracy: Toward Appreciating Group Differences

By Yueh-Ting Lee; Lee J. Jussim et al. | Go to book overview

6
Stereotypes, Base Rates, and the
Fundamental Attribution
Mistake: A
Content-Based Approach
to Judgmental Accuracy

David C. Funder

We realize that something is a snake and immediately respond to it on the basis of what we believe to be true about snakes in general. We realize somebody is a librarian, or an extravert, and respond to that person on the basis of what we believe to be true about librarians or extraverts. Every new object, and every new person, that we encounter is almost immediately categorized in the light of the similarity we perceive between it, or him or her, and other objects or persons we have encountered in the past. Is this kind of categorization and subsequent response on the basis of preexisting knowledge a good thing to do?

The social psychological literature contains two firm and unequivocal answers to this question: no and yes. That is, in a fairly amazing twist of scientific progress, over the past half-century, social psychology has managed to develop two independent research literatures—both active, in-

____________________
The research described in this chapter was supported by National Institute of Mental Health ( NIMH) Grant R01-MH42427 to me. I am grateful for the helpful comments of Lee Jussim, Yueh-Ting Lee, Clark McCauley, and Tom Malloy.

Correspondence concerning this chapter should be addressed to David C. Funder, Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, California 92521.

-141-

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