The effects of stereotypes on social judgements
Research and theorising in the social cognition tradition typically equates stereotypes with cognitive schemata and researchers investigate the extent of schematic effects on social information processing. Within this cognitive perspective, however, the present thesis identified several unresolved issues in the existing stereotype literature. On the basis of these limitations, the present thesis addressed three main empirical issues: (1) stereotypical effects on causal attribution; (2) stereotypical effects on social memory; and (3) stereotypical effects on information processing. Chapters 4 and 5 established the effects of stereotypes on judical decision processes and provided an impetus for the subsequent experimentation. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 investigated the effects of stereotypes on causal attribution and social memory. It was established that stereotype-confirming behaviours are attributed less to external factors than are stereotype-disconfirming behaviours. Also, subjects showed a preferential recall for stereotype-confirming rather than disconfirming information. Chapter 9 investigated the effects of stereotype activation on the speed with which subjects can make a range of attributional inferences. It was demonstrated that when a consistent stereotype is activated subjects have instant access to causal information from which inferences of personal causation can be rapidly computed. Chapter 10 investigated two process models of stereotype use in judgemental tasks. While stereotypical judgemental biases were obtained, the results supported neither of the proposed process models. Consequently, the results were recast into a new theoretical framework implicating both cognitive and motivational factors as determinants of stereotypic biases on judgement and recall. Chapter 11 considered the wider implications of the findings obtained in the present thesis and two process models of stereotype use were presented. The first outlined the effects of stereotypes on judgements of personal causation, and the second the effects of stereotypes on the relationship between judgement and recall in social information processing.