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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Prejudice and stereotype maintenance processes: Attention, attribution, and individuation

  • Author(s): Sherman, JW
  • Stroessner, SJ
  • Conrey, FR
  • Azam, OA
  • et al.

Three experiments examined the relationship between prejudice and processing of Stereotypic information. Higher levels of prejudice were associated with greater attention to and more thorough encoding of stereotype-inconsistent than stereotype-consistent behaviors but only when processing capacity was plentiful (Experiments 1 and 3). High-prejudice participants attributed consistent behaviors to internal factors and inconsistent behaviors to external forces (Experiment 2). Together, these results suggest that high-prejudice people attend carefully to inconsistent behaviors to explain them away but only if they have sufficient resources to do so. Results also showed that low-prejudice but not high-prejudice participants formed individuated impressions by integrating the implications of the target's behaviors (i.e., individuating). High levels of prejudice appear to be associated with biased encoding and judgment processes that may serve to maintain stereotypes. Copyright 2005 by the American Psychological Association.

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