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Suppression as a Stereotype Control Strategy


Recent research reveals that efforts to suppress stereotypic thoughts can backfire and produce a rebound effect, such that stereotypic thinking increases to a level that is even greater than if no attempt at stereotype control was initially exercised (e.g., Macrae, Bodenhausen, Milne, & Jetten, 1994). The primary goal of this article is to present an in-depth theoretical analysis of stereotype suppression that identifies numerous potential moderators of the effect of stereotype suppression on the likelihood of subsequent rebound. Our analysis of stereotype suppression focuses on two broad issues: the influence of level of prejudice and the influence of processing goals on the activation versus application of stereotypes. Although stereotype rebound occurs under some circumstances, we suggest that a complete understanding of this phenomenon requires consideration of the full array of possible moderating influences.

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