On the (dis-)confirmability of stereotypic attributes

Anne Maass, Francesca Montalcini, Elisa Biciotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two experiments investigated the linguistic abstractness and confirmability of elements contained in ingroup and outgroup stereotypes. The first experiment shows that positive elements of the ingroup stereotype (Italians) and negative elements of the outgroup stereotype (Jews, Germans) tended to be particularly abstract. Also, negative elements contained in the outgroup stereotypes required relatively little evidence to be considered 'true' but much disconfirming evidence to be rejected as 'false'. No such bias emerged for ingroup stereotypes. The second experiment compared the abstraction of four outgroup stereotypes (Jews, Blacks, homosexuals, career women) finding the greatest abstraction for the oldest stereotype (Jews), and least abstraction for the most recent stereotype (career women) with the remaining two groups (Blacks, homosexuals) occupying an intermediate position. Results are interpreted as suggesting that stereotypes may become more abstract over time as they lose the concrete elements that are easier to disconfirm while maintaining the abstract elements that are more resistant to change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-402
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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