Stereotypic Biases in Social Decision Making and Memory: Testing Process Models of Stereotype Use

Galen V. Bodenhausen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

295 Scopus citations


Two information-processing mechanisms that could potentially contribute to judgmental discrimination against the members of stereotyped social groups were examined in two experiments, using a mock juror decision-making task. Both postulated mechanisms involve biased processing of judgment-relevant evidence. The interpretation hypothesis asserts that the activation of stereotypic concepts influences the perceived probative implications of other evidence. The selective processing hypothesis asserts that stereotype-consistent evidence is processed more extensively than is inconsistent evidence. Judgment and memory data from the first experiment supported the general notion that stereotype-based discrimination emerges from biased evidence processing. The specific pattern of results supported selective processing rather than interpretation biases as the critical process underlying observed judgmental discrimination. The second experiment corroborated this conclusion by showing that a manipulation that prevents selective processing of the evidence effectively eliminated biases in judgments and recall pertaining to stereotyped targets. Implications for a general understanding of stereotyping and discrimination are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-737
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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