Structural Properties of Stereotypic Knowledge and Their Influences on the Construal of Social Situations

  • Wittenbrink B
  • Gist P
  • Hilton J
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Abstract

This research focused on the role that higher order structural properties of stereotypic knowledge play in the processing of social information. It is argued that stereotypic assumptions about cause-effect relations provide important constraints for the causal structure underlying the perceiver's subjective representation of social information. Experiment 1 shows how, within the context of a jury decision experiment, the causal structure underlying stereotypic knowledge about African Americans influences the construal of causality in a situation involving a member of that group. Results from 2 additional experiments indicate that this construal effect is based in part on stereotypic knowledge affecting the encoding of the trial evidence instead of on biasing responses at the output stage. The implications of these findings are discussed, and a theoretical framework is offered according to which the application of category knowledge involves not only the matching of stereotypic attributes but also the alignment of structural relations in the environment. Racial and Ethnic Attitudes Social Perception Stereotyped Attitudes Adulthood Blacks Whites Culture & Ethnology--2930

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