Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination

Prejudice and stereotyping

Our research on stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination is inspired by the work of Penn State researchers Muzafer Sherif and Carolyn W. Sherif who conducted pioneering work on intergroup relations. Our research builds on this foundation through examining social cognitive processes that activate stereotypes, the variety of ways that prejudice and discriminatory behavior are manifested, and consequences of being concerned about appearing prejudiced. We examine stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination both from the perspective of the perceiver and from the perspective of those who are the targets.

Phillip Atiba Goff's research suggests that one's anxiety about being seen as racist can, ironically, lead one to discriminate—even in the absence of prejudice. He also examines how peoples' conceptions of racism (i.e., what is it? How does it function?) may shift in different contexts.

Rally against prejudice (c) Daily Collegian, 2001. Photo by Barbara Ovrutsky. Used with permission.

Terri Vescio examines the discriminatory behaviors of powerful people and the effect that that those discriminatory acts have on low power people, including women, ethnic minorities, and the elderly. She also examines cognitive and affective processes aroused when members of negatively stereotyped groups hold positions of power. Finally, she studies the cognitive and affective processes involved interventions designed to change stereotypes and reduce prejudice.

Janet Swim's research examines perceptions of discrimination and prejudice as well as proactive and reactive coping responses to discrimination.

Reg Adams is interested in appearance cues stereotypically associated with different social groups including race, gender, sexuality, and age. He examines both how these cues influence, and in turn are influenced by, our perceptions of others. Of particular interest is the extent to which these cues influence category activation and interact with other appearance cues to form unified representations that guide our impressions and responses to others.

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