Is the message - that we're all prone to stereotyping others - dangerous?

Posted on May 7, 2015

Photo: flickr

In recent years,the expression of stereotypes have increasingly been spoken about as a wrong-doing and as something that should be avoided. The suppression of expressing stereotypes is assumed as limiting the ill-thought of ostracizing different people.

A new paper from researchers Michelle Duguid and Melissa Thomas-Hunt argues that this "Everyone Stereotypes" message, far from reducing bias, may actually encourage it. There were several experiments conducted to study the social implications of this message.

The results of the experiments imply that Compared to those given no messages, participants who were informed about the message, produced more stereotypical ratings, whether about women, older people or the obese. Another experiment even showed that hearing the "Everyone Stereotypes" message led men to negotiate more aggressively with women, resulting in poorer outcomes for the women.

The reason the "Everyone Stereotypes" message goes wrong can be found in a cornerstone of social psychology: we are more inclined to do something if others in our group are doing it. This means unspoken biases firm up when we believe them to be ubiquitous, and we may even react to counter-examples with greater hostility.

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Source material from PsychNet