chapter  3
24 Pages

Schema-triggered Affect: Applications to Social Perception

BySusan T. Fiske

Since moving to Pittsburgh, I have encountered a new stereotype. It purportedly describes a “ mill hunk,” that is, the prototypic steel worker. A mill hunk, so the stereotype runs, can be male or female but is invariably macho and raunchy regardless of gender. A mill hunk always drinks Iron City beer, watches every Steeler game, and wears a t-shirt in all weather. Research in social cognition has had much to say about how such stereotypic information is represented and processed. For example, my mill-hunk stereotype is stored as an abstracted generic example, not as a collection of all the steelworkers I have ever known, although the stereotype does contain specific examples too. I am likely to ignore information irrelevant to the stereotype, so, for example, whether or not a partic­ ular mill hunk is athletic will not catch my attention. On the other hand, I will notice wildly discrepant information-a mill hunk who is also a Shakespeare scholar-and if allowed time to mull it over, I will recall the discrepant informa­ tion. If I do not have time to elaborate on the information encountered, I will tend to recall only consistent information-a mill hunk who reads Hustler magazine. This research on social cognition and stereotyping is ably reviewed elsewhere (Hamilton, 1979; Hastie, 1981; Taylor & Crocker, 1981).1