Automatic Stereotype Activation: The Effects of Stereotype and Individual Differences

Essay by ngelsaUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, August 2007

download word file, 15 pages 1.0

Literature ReviewOver the past years, many different research studies have been conducted on automatic stereotype activation. Stereotype is the understanding and "expectations" of the typical characteristics of a group which is already implanted in our mind (Kunda, 1999, p.315). For example, Devine found in her study in 1989 that White Americans often view African Americans as aggressive. Aggressiveness is one of the many negative attributes that is frequently associated with African Americans (Devine, 1989). However, stereotype will not be automatically activated on its own without a prompt. A member of the stereotyped group must be presented in order to activate the stereotype automatically. Even if the member of the stereotyped group appears only for less than hundreds millisecond, stereotype of that particular group can still be activated automatically (Kunda, Davies, Adams, and Spencer, 2002). For example, by looking at an image of African American faces for 315 ms can trigger most people to activate the negative stereotypes of African American automatically (see Fazio, Jackson, Dunton, and Williams, 1995).

Moreover, the stereotype can automatically influence one's judgement and behaviour toward another person. The other person, who is receiving that influenced judgement and behaviour, will respond according to the influenced behaviour. This response will confirm and reinforce one's stereotype without one realizing the correct source of the response, causing "a vicious and escalating cycle of increasingly negative responses" (Kunda, 1999, p.323). However, not everyone will be influenced by their stereotypes. Devine argues that although everyone does experience the automatic activation of stereotypes, some maybe able to inhibit the effects of stereotype if they are aware of the activation of the stereotype, if they are motivated to inhibit the stereotype, and if there is enough time and cognitive resources. More studies will be discussed in detail below to better demonstrate the automatic activation...