Conservatives negatively evaluate counterstereotypical people to maintain a sense of certainty

Chadly Stern, Tessa V. West, Nicholas O. Rule, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


People frequently use physical appearance stereotypes to categorize individuals when their group membership is not directly observable. Recent research indicates that political conservatives tend to use such stereotypes more than liberals do because they express a greater desire for certainty and order. In the present research, we found that conservatives were also more likely to negatively evaluate and distribute fewer economic resources to people who deviate from the stereotypes of their group. This occurred for people belonging to both preexisting and novel groups, regardless of whether the stereotypes were real or experimentally fabricated. Critically, conservatives only negatively evaluated counterstereotypical people when the stereotypes were functional - that is, when they expected that they would need to use the stereotypes at a later point to categorize individuals into groups. Moreover, increasing liberals' desire for certainty led them to negatively evaluate counterstereotypical people just like conservatives did. Thus, conservatives are not only more likely to use stereotypes than are liberals, but are especially likely to negatively evaluate counterstereotypical people to organize the social world with greater certainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15337-15342
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Ideology
  • Social evaluation
  • Stereotyping


Dive into the research topics of 'Conservatives negatively evaluate counterstereotypical people to maintain a sense of certainty'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this