Schemas and Stereotypes
-Stereotypes are theories we carry around in our heads about how members of
various groups think, look, and behave
-Form networks of associations around a group of people are schemas (developed
passively and actively)
-Schemas become stereotypes when they are widely shared or accepted
-Gender stereotypes are widely shared beliefs about men and women.
-Heuristic: short cut, which causes generalizations
-Schemas: things that are implemented in our head
-Women are dainty, soft, have longer hair
-Men are tall, strong, sturdy, have shorter hair
-Women are warm, gentle, nurturing, helpful, expression, submissive,
-Men are independent, competitive, self-confident, dominant, unemotional,
-Social and Occupational Roles:
-Women are housewives, mothers, sexy woman, athletic women, career
-Men are blue collar, macho, athletic, businessmen.
-Everyone assumed to be heterosexual, but if violate gender norms in
-Women who are more masculine or strong must be lesbians
-These women are seen as less attractive, less popular, and worse mothers.
Intersections of Gender, Race, and Class
-U.S. College students viewed:
-Typical American women: intelligent, materialistic, sensitive.
-Black women: Loud, talkative, aggressive
-No overlap in the top traits associated with each group
-Low SES women as: dirty, hostile, irresponsible
-Mammy: dark complexion, nurturer, overweight, broad shoulders (e.g., Aunt
Jemima, black slave nannies)
-Jezebel: highly sexualized young Black females, immoral seductive,
promiscuous (e.g., women in music videos)
-Sapphire: aggressive, domineering, unfeminine bullies who drive men away
with their loud mouths. Resistant to Change
-Go-to heuristics that improve cognitive efficiency
-Increasingly under time pressures, translating into greater reliance on ‘thin
slices’ of information
-Once schemas are set:
-We encode schema-consistent information, ignore schema-inconsistent
-We assimilate, rather than accommodate
-Lack of interaction with outgroup members
-Subtyping allows us to maintain existing beliefs!
Impact of Stereotypes
-Internalization – we feel like we must match up with perscription norms and
e.g. Pressure to look a certain way or take risky actions
-We see them as true expressions of our authentic selves, rather than socially
-May generate self-fulfilling prophecies, guiding major life decisions (e.g. sex,
-Fear of confirming stereotypes = stereotype threat, which contributes to anxiety
and cognitive underperformance.
Stereotypes as Primes
-Sexist stereotypes can prime sexist and criminal behaviour like:
Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes Every Chance it gets
-Canadians spend more time watching TV each day than socializing, playing sports
-Avg. 21.4 hours/week
-McLuhan calls it the “first curriculum”:
-Reinforces gender stereotypes
-Features more males (who have higher status too)
-Women featured in comedies (generally thinner women)
-Heavier women subject of fat jokes
-Women subject to more sexual comments from males
Representations of Women
-Women still underrepresented in all forms of media.
-Certain women are almost invisible. Examples? -Women and girls are underrepresented in children’s picture books, comic books.
-Commercials portray them in stereotypical ways
E.g. obsessed with toilet paper, Swiffer, air freshener
-Rarely shown in workplace, usually at home and/or taking care of kids
Representations of Men
-Often model hyper masculinity & anti-social behaviour:
-Callousness toward women and/or sex
-Rarely shown with families, or shown as incompetent men at
-Working class men depicted as buffoons, lazy slobs
-Proportion of overall image that is devoted to the face .