You're Smart but Cold, or Nice but Dumb;
We, of Course, are Both Smart and Nice: Stereotypes Combine Positive
and Negative Assumptions
Stereotypes, like people,
come in many shapes and sizes. Some groups are stereotyped as incapable
(e.g. elderly people), while some are written off as cold (e.g.
rich people). Psychologists have generally agreed that stereotypes
are characterized by unflattering assumptions. However, a series
of studies conducted by Princeton and other researchers challenges
Princeton psychologists Susan Fiske and Amy Cuddy,
along with psychologists Peter Glick, of Lawrence University, and
Jun Xu, of University of California, Los Angeles, demonstrate that
stereotypes are captured in two distinct dimensions -- warmth and
competence. Furthermore, they’ve found that a positive stereotype
in one of these dimensions is generally consistent with a negative
stereotype in the other.
In surveys of 734 people, the researchers found
that stereotypes of an out-group are usually characterized by a
mixture of negative and positive reactions, either liking but disrespecting
or respecting but disliking. Prejudice includes mixed emotions,
such as pity and envy, as well as straightforward contempt and admiration.
They found that high-status, allegedly competitive groups tend to
be characterized by a stereotype of high competence and low warmth.
Low-status, allegedly non-competitive groups tend to be characterized
by a stereotype of low competence and high warmth.
The data linking stereotypes to a group’s
own status and relations with other groups suggest that prejudice
is likely to be affected by changes in a group’s social circumstances:
“Stereotypes and prejudice come from the
relative positions of groups in society,” notes Fiske. “Accidents
of social history put groups in certain power positions, defining
their seeming status and competitiveness as soon as they step on
American soil. Stereotypes and prejudice result more from temporary
circumstances than people typically think.”
Published in The Journal of Personality and Psychology
(2002, Vol. 82, No. 6), the paper encompassed four separate studies
drawing on a range of participants, including students and non-students
in five different states. The results have replicated recently on
a nationally representative U.S. sample and in 12 international