Category (non)fit modulates extrapolative stereotyping of multiply categorizable social targets

Maureen A. Craig, Galen V. Bodenhausen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social stereotypes provide a basis for making guesses about others' unknown characteristics. We conducted four studies examining the role of perceived category fit in this process. Disconfirming a particular group stereotype should reduce a target's perceived category fit and, consequently, other distinct stereotypes about the category should seem less applicable to the target. Study 1 focused on targets' fit to a single category. Studies 2-4 explored the more complex case of multiply categorizable targets. In these studies, targets' behavior had contrasting implications for their racial and gender fit. Behavior implying high racial fit also implied low gender fit, and vice versa. All four studies supported the prediction that fit moderates stereotyping. Perceivers were sensitive to fit cues even in the case of complex, multifaceted targets. Thus, behavior disconfirming one particular stereotype can moderate the perceived fit of multiple social categories. Stereotype application is attuned to these contextual variations in fit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-588
Number of pages30
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Category fit
  • Multiple categories
  • Stereotyping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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