Traits and Social Stereotypes: Efficiency Differences in Social Information Processing

Susan M. Andersen, Roberta L. Klatzky, John Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on the associative structure of social stereotypes and trait-defined categories has shown that stereotypes are associatively richer, more visual, and more distinctive (Andersen & Klatzky, 1987). We hypothesized that stereotypes might also operate more efficiently than trait-defined categories in social information processing. Participants were presented with sentences pairing either a stereotype or a trait label with an overt act or an internal state. Participants judged whether or not the designated target person would be likely to do or to experience what was described in the sentence. As predicted, participants judged the stereotype sentences significantly more quickly than the trait sentences. An incidental recall test of memory for the target terms, cued by the acts and states, showed that participants were also better able to remember the stereotypes than the traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-201
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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