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18 Feb 2011
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Lecture 5: Descriptive and Prescriptive Stereotyping
Descriptive and Prescriptive Functions of Stereotypes
Macrae, Milne, and Bodenhausen (1994) on functions of descriptive stereotypes
oPs did two tasks simultaneously (forming an impression of individuals from presented traits with half of Ps given a stereotypic
labels and listening to info about the geography and economy of Indonesia)
oPs were BETTER at remembering info when they have a stereotype to organize it together
oWhen we use a stereotype to simplify the world, we have more resources available to help us do other cognitive tasks
Functions of prescriptive stereotypes
oRationalization helps maintain and legitimize social hierarchies
To avoid having to change the system
To maintain feelings that ones society is just
Descriptive Stereotyping
We use stereotypes to PREDICT others traits and behaviors
Gender stereotypes are learned very early in life (before cognitive ability is developed to reject them) automatic association with
categories of people (link m en with agentic traits, careers, and high-status roles; women with communal traits, family, and low-status
roles)
We can use implicit measures
Implicit Association Test (IAT): easier to categorize objects together when they are ALREADY associated in your mental knowledge
structures
oMapping ‘female and ‘science to the same response key slower RT in people who endorse traditional gender roles
oWhy use IAT instead of directly asking their attitudes ?
They might lie!
IAT assesses potential biases that we might not even know t hat we have
oTypically, IATs demonstrate strong in-group bias for high-status group members; weak in-group bias or out-group favor itism for
low-status group members
oBUT, gender-attitude IATs show OPPOSITE patterns!
Men tend to display WEAK in-group bias
Women tend to exhibit EXTREMELY STRONG in-group bias
oPositive IAT toward wom en are correlated with having favorable feelings towards mom s than dads, being primar ily raised by
moms, and IAT of men with t hreat
oMens pos itive IAT with women correlate with t heir degree of heterosexual exper ience
oSo, implicit and explicit attitude measures seem to show the SAME pattern
Strong associations of women wit h warmth and family
Men with agentic competence and careers
oOn IAT, adults implicit responses look more like the childrens explicit ones
Both groups link the in-group with warm and the out-group with cold
Both link the in-group with power if presented aspower vs. “weak
If researchers control for t he automatic tendency to match good wit h the self (or in-group), IAT shows STRONG stereotypic
associations
Prescriptive Stereotyping
Much of the content of GENDER STEREOTYPES = prescriptive!
Social structural perspectives (ie: social role theory) argues that prescriptive gender stereotypes JUSTIFY existing social
arr angements (boys must be trained to be leaders to continue to seek leadership roles; girls to be communal to maintain their
homemaker roles)
Although stereotypes of Blacks as slaves do NOT exist anymore after the civil r ights movement, gender roles are STILL enforced
Support traits that fit traditional gender roles and subsequent power differentials
Prentice and Carranza (2004)
oOught-to-have traits
Men: business sense, athleticism, leadership ability, and self-reliance ( traits useful for provider and protector roles)
Women: warm, kind, interested in children, loyal, and sensitive ( traits useful for mothers and wives)
oRelaxed prescriptions (not required to have these traits)
Men: happy, friendly, helpful, warm, kind
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Document Summary

Functions of prescriptive stereotypes: rationalization helps maintain and legitimize social hierarchies. To maintain feelings that one"s society is just. men tend to display weak in-group bias. Strong associations of women with warmth and family. men with agentic competence and careers: on iat, adults" implicit responses look more like the children"s explicit ones. both groups link the in-group with warm and the out-group with cold. both link the in-group with power if presented as power vs. weak . If researchers control for the automatic tendency to match good with the self (or in-group), iat shows strong stereotypic associations. Prescriptive stereotyping: much of the content of gender stereotypes = prescriptive! Support traits that fit traditional gender roles and subsequent power differentials. men: business sense, athleticism, leadership ability, and self-reliance ( traits useful for provider and protector roles)

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