Categorical and contextual bases of person memory and stereotyping

Shelley E. Taylor, Susan T. Fiske, Nancy L. Etcoff, Audrey J. Ruderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

722 Scopus citations


In 3 studies, a total of 207 White university summer school students observed slide and type portrayals of interacting small groups that were of mixed sex or mixed race. Hypotheses were that (a) social perceivers encode person information by race and sex; (b) this fact leads to minimizing within-group and exaggerating between-group differences; (c) perceivers stereotype accordingly; (d) within-group attributes, both stereotyped and nonstereotyped, are exaggerated in inverse proportion to the size of the minority subgroup; (e) better discriminations are made within smaller subgroups; (f) imputations of attributes to groups as a whole are also sensitive to the makeup of the group; and (g) all these behaviors are attenuated when the perceiver is a member of the subgroup evaluated. All but the last hypothesis received at least partial support. Results are discussed in terms of categorization processes and suggest that normal cognitive processes explain the process of stereotyping quite well. (32 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-793
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1978

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • membership in group, person memory &
  • race structure of interacting small groups &
  • sex &
  • stereotyping, college students as social perceivers


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