Stereotype - Content


Stereotype content refers to the attributes that people think characterize a group. Studies of stereotype content examine what people think of others rather than the reasons and mechanisms involved in stereotyping.

Early theories of stereotype content proposed by social psychologists like Gordon Allport assumed that stereotypes of outgroups reflected uniform antipathy. Katz and Braly, for instance, argued in their classic 1933 study that ethnic stereotypes were uniformly negative.

By contrast, a newer model of stereotype content theorizes that stereotypes are frequently ambivalent and vary along two dimensions: warmth and competence. Warmth and competence are respectively predicted by lack of competition and status; groups that do not compete with the ingroup for the same resources (e.g., college space) are perceived as warm while high-status (e.g., economically or educationally successful) groups are considered competent. The groups within each of the four combinations of high and low levels of warmth and competence elicit distinct emotions. The model explains the phenomenon that some outgroups are admired but disliked while others are liked but disrespected. It was empirically tested on a variety of national and international samples and was found to reliably predict stereotype content.

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