ABSTRACT

Stereotype activation often occurs without conscious thought, especially when faces are prototypical, when the social context cues stereotypes, and when the perceiver is prejudiced. Activation is slowed or stopped when there is a motivation to inhibit stereotyping, such as when people have comprehension or self-enhancement goals, and a strong belief in equality produces chronic egalitarian goals. However, some goals, such as a need for closure, increase stereotype activation. Goals also affect whether a stereotype is applied: Cognitive busyness can disrupt stereotype activation but increase stereotype application and having social power increases stereotyping. Stereotype suppression can produce stereotype rebound, or greater use of stereotypes. The shooter bias emerges when people err by shooting unarmed Black suspects more than unarmed White suspects. Ambiguous behaviors are often interpreted as stereotype consistent; this can create a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads people to behave in a way that confirms others’ stereotypes about them. Stereotypes tend to be maintained; when an individual’s behavior disconfirms a stereotype, often a subtype is created that keeps the group-level stereotype intact. People hold stereotypes for different reasons, such as to protect their self-concept—an ego defensive function—or to ensure they fit in—a social adjustment function.