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Changing social stereotypes: The case of the information seeker

by LC Johnston, CN Macrae
European Journal of Social Psychology ()


Abstract: Previous research has shown that stereotype-based judgements can be attenuated through the attribution of disconfirming information to individual group members. Typically, in these studies, subjects are forced to process all the available information, including disconfirming information, before providing their impressions of the group. In the reported research, in contrast, we attempted to create a more naturalistic paradigm by allowing subjects to control the amount and nature of information they received about individual group members. Under these conditions, we expected subjects to instigate a biased information-seeking strategy and display a preference for stereotype-matching rather than stereotype-mismatching information. Our results supported this prediction. When subjects could control the nature and amount of information they received about a target group they showed: (i) a preference for stereotype-matching information and (ii) no change in their stereotypic impressions of the group. When, however, subjects were forced to process all the available information, their stereotypic evaluation of the group diminished These findings demonstrate the general resistance of stereotypes to change in naturalistic, information-seeking settings.

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