SAQ OUTLINE: Explain the formation of stereotypes and their effect on behavior.
Definition: Stereotypes assign similar characteristics to all members of a group, despite the fact that the group members may vary widely from one another. •
our social world is very complex and presents us with too much information •
since our capacity to process information is limited, there is a need to simplify our social way •
one of the way to avoid information overload is social categorization •
these are stereotypes
Stereotypes simplify information processing in social perception •
stereotypes are schemas as they: are energy-saving devices, automatically activated, stable and resistant to change, affect behavior. •
Not stable across cluture
Cohen presented participants with a videotape showing a woman having dinner with her husband. Half the participants were told that the woman was a waitress and the rest that she was a librarian. At a later memory test, participants showed better recall for stereotype- consistent information. Those who thought she was a waitress remembered her beer drinking. Participants who thought she was a librarian were more likely to remember that she was wearing glasses and was listening to classical music. Like the studies on the effects of schemas, Cohen’s study shows that we are likely to notice and subsequently remember information which is consistent with our stereotypes.
FISKE AND DYER
Like all schemas, stereotypes are formed over time on the basis of relevant experiences. For Fiske and Dyer (1985), stereotype formation begins with the learning of independent schema elements. For example, the formation of a gender schema for ‘female’ begins with isolated elements such as ‘girls dress in pink’ and ‘girls play with dolls’ whereas, ‘boys dress in blue and play with cars’. With advancing age additional elements are added, such as information about gender-appropriate behaviours and work-related preferences. Eventually, strong associations form between all the various elements and a single schema emerges. Once formed, repeated practice in the use of the schema may lead to such levels of integration that it can be activated automatically and unconsciously seen then.
Participants in this experiment were asked to complete a test involving 30 items. This task was presented to the participants as a language proficiency task. Each of the 30 items consisted of five unrelated words. For each item participants had to use four of the five words to form, as fast as possible, a grammatically correct sentence. There were two conditions in this experiment. In one, the task contained words related to and intending to activate the elderly stereotype (e.g. grey, retired, wise). In the other condition, the words used were unrelated to the elderly stereotype (e.g. thirsty, clean, private). After completing the experimental tasks, participants were directed towards the elevator. A confederate, sitting in the corridor, timed how long the participants took to walk from the experimental room to the elevator. •
Bargh et al. found that participants who had their elderly stereotype activated walked significantly more slowly towards the elevator than the rest of the participants. Priming of this stereotype must have taken place unconsciously. As Bargh et al. note, the task words did not directly relate to time or speed and no conscious awareness of the elderly stereotype was ever in evidence for the duration of the study.
These researchers asked participants to read descriptions about two made-up groups (Group A and Group B). The descriptions were based on a number of positive and negative behaviours. Group A (the majority group) had twice as many members than Group B (the minority group). In the descriptions, Group A members performed 18 positive and 8 negative behaviours. Group B members performed 9 positive and 4...
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