Categorization and stereotyping: Effects of group context on memory and social judgment

Monica Biernat, Theresa K. Vescio

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94 Scopus citations


Three studies examined several hypotheses concerning the effects of group context on categorization and the subsequent effects of categorization on memory and social judgment. Using a paradigm developed by Taylor and her colleagues (Taylor, Fiske, Etcoff, & Ruderman, 1978), subjects in Studies 1 and 2 were exposed to a slide and audiotape depiction of a 6-person group discussing affirmative action. The racial makeup of the group was manipulated such that subjects either saw a balanced race group (three Black and three White members) or a solo Black/five White person group. In each case, three of the discussants expressed pro-and three expressed anti-affirmative action attitudes. We hypothesized that (1) race and attitude position would serve as encoding cues, resulting in greater frequency of within-than between-category errors in cued recall, and (2) White subjects′ negative stereotypes of Blacks would be activated by the racial overtones of the discussion, but would be offset by concerns about appearing non-prejudiced. This would result in more positive evaluations of Black than White targets, particularly among subjects scoring low in racism. This effect was expected to be reversed when race was no longer a salient aspect of the situation (Study 3). As a third hypothesis we set forth conflicting predictions about the effects of the group context manipulation on social judgment: Taylor et al.′s (1978) perceptual salience hypothesis and Oakes and Turner′s (1986; Oakes, 1987) functional perspective on category salience. Hypotheses 1 and 2 received sound support, and the data were more consistent with the Taylor than with the Oakes predictions. Findings are discussed in regard to modern racism, construct accessibility, perceptual salience, and contextual changes in category use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-202
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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