Prejudices in Cultural Contexts: Shared Stereotypes (Gender, Age) Versus Variable Stereotypes (Race, Ethnicity, Religion)

Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Some prejudices share cross-cultural patterns, but others are more variable and culture specific. Those sharing cross-cultural patterns (sexism, ageism) each combine societal status differences and intimate interdependence. For example, in stereotypes of sex and age, lower status groups—women and elders—gain stereotypic warmth (from their cooperative interdependence) but lose stereotypic competence (from their lower status); men and middle-aged adults show the opposite trade-off, stereotypically more competent than warm. Meta-analyses support these widespread ambivalent (mixed) stereotypes for gender and age across cultures. Social class stereotypes often share some similarities (cold but competent rich vs. warm but incompetent poor). These compensatory warmth versus competence stereotypes may function to manage common human dilemmas of interacting across societal and personal positions. However, other stereotypes are more variable and culture specific (ethnicity, race, religion). Case studies of specific race/ethnicities and religions reveal much more cultural variation in their stereotype content, supporting their being responses to particular cultural contexts, apparent accidents of history. To change stereotypes requires understanding their commonalities and differences, their origins and patterns across cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-799
Number of pages9
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


  • aging
  • culture
  • development
  • diversity
  • gender
  • intergroup relations
  • sex
  • social cognition
  • socioeconomic status


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