British Journal of Social Psychology

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Volume 35 Issue 3 (September 1996), Pages 331-441

Stereotyping and social influence: The mediation of stereotype applicability and sharedness by the views of in‐group and out‐group members (pages 369-397)

Since the advent of the ‘cognitive revolution’ in stereotyping research, interest in the consensual nature of stereotypes and its social psychological basis has declined dramatically. Reversing this trend, this paper examines the manner in which the strength of shared stereotypes and the links between particular content and particular groups are mediated by processes of social influence. Two experiments (Ns = 300, 230) are reported in which participants' pre‐existing stereotypes about Australians and Americans were confirmed or contradicted by either an in‐group or an out‐group source. As predicted, this social validation had powerful effects on the perceived applicability of content to groups (Expt 1) as well as stereotype consensus and favourableness (Expt 2). Stereotypes were typically bolstered when they were confirmed by an in‐group or contradicted by an out‐group, relative to conditions in which they were contradicted by an in‐group or confirmed by an out‐group. It is argued that the theoretical integration of principles from stereotyping and social influence research offers the potential for a fuller understanding of the inter‐subjective, group based properties of stereotypes and stereotype change.

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