Stereotypes, Base Rates, and the
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-____________________
Correspondence concerning this chapter should be addressed to David C. Funder, Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, California 92521.