The Vicious Cycle Linking Stereotypes and Social Roles

Alice H. Eagly*, Anne M. Koenig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Members of social categories defined by attributes such as sex, race, and age occupy certain types of social roles much more than members of other social categories do. The qualities that define these roles become associated with the category as a whole, thus forming a stereotype. In a vicious cycle, this stereotype then hinders category members’ movement into roles with different demands because their stereotype portrays them as well matched to their existing roles but not to these new roles. This vicious cycle has important implications for stereotype change. Given the difficulties of producing enduring change by directly attacking stereotypes in the minds of individuals, a more effective strategy consists of policies and programs that change the distributions of category members in roles, thereby changing stereotypes at their source. If the vicious cycle is not interrupted by such social change, observations of category members’ typical social roles continually reinstate existing stereotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-350
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • prejudice
  • social change
  • social roles
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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