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Development and Mental Representation of Stereotypes


A mixed model of stereotype representation was tested. Experiment 1 examined the development of stereotypes about novel groups. Results showed that, at low levels of experience, stereotypic group knowledge is derived from information about particular group exemplars. However, as experience increases, an abstract group stereotype is formed that is stored and retrieved independently of the exemplars on which it was based. Results of Experiment 2 suggest that preexisting stereotypes about well-known groups are represented as abstract structures in memory. These results indicate that stereotypical knowledge is most likely to be exemplar-based in the absence of abstract stereotypes. The implications of these findings for other aspects of stereotyping and social perception are discussed.

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