Exaggerating Accessible Differences: When Gender Stereotypes Overestimate Actual Group Differences

Tal Eyal, Nicholas Epley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stereotypes are often presumed to exaggerate group differences, but empirical evidence is mixed. We suggest exaggeration is moderated by the accessibility of specific stereotype content. In particular, because the most accessible stereotype contents are attributes perceived to differ between groups, those attributes are most likely to exaggerate actual group differences due to regression to the mean. We tested this hypothesis using a highly accessible gender stereotype: that women are more socially sensitive than men. We confirmed that the most accessible stereotype content involves attributes perceived to differ between groups (pretest), and that these stereotypes contain some accuracy but significantly exaggerate actual gender differences (Experiment 1). We observe less exaggeration when judging less accessible stereotype content (Experiment 2), or when judging individual men and women (Experiment 3). Considering the accessibility of specific stereotype content may explain when stereotypes exaggerate actual group differences and when they do not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1336
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume43
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • gender differences
  • social judgment
  • social sensitivity
  • stereotype accuracy
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Exaggerating Accessible Differences: When Gender Stereotypes Overestimate Actual Group Differences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this