Group Dynamics and the Public Sphere

Prejudice and Racism

What impact does stereotyping have on people’s reasoning?

Furthermore, stereotypes are often self-serving and help people in powerful in-groups rationalize their privileged position relative to less privileged out-groups. For centuries women were depicted as emotional and childish and African Americans as lazy and unintelligent. More recently, homosexuals have been portrayed as sexually predatory (and thus a threat to our schools and our military).

Such views justify the exclusion of these out-groups from power and privilege. Stereotypes are not all powerful, however, and can be somewhat flexible. Our tendency to stereotype can also be shaped by cues in the environment. For example, when research subjects were cued to pay attention to gender, they thought in terms of gender stereotypes. This tendency was less evident when gender cues were removed.


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