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Abstract

Two studies provide support for the group-justification approach to stereotyping (Tajfel, 1981; Huici, 1984). This approach contends that stereotypes not only serve cognitive functions for individuals but also provide a means of justifying prior intergroup discrimination. Study 1 investigated whether the content of the Scottish ingroup stereotype changes due to the prior expression of intergroup discrimination. Scottish students were primed with either a ‘differentiation’ or a ‘fairness’ ingroup norm and completed two intergroup judgement tasks. Other Scottish students were primed only with a ‘differentiation’ ingroup norm, while a control group received no prime or judgement tasks. Only participants who experienced the ‘differentiation’ ingroup norm prime and the intergroup judgement tasks changed the content of their ingroup stereotype as an attempt to justify their discriminatory behaviour. Study 2 examined whether Scottish students would use both positive ingroup and negative outgroup stereotypes to rationalize intergroup discrimination. Students who experienced a ‘differentiation’ ingroup norm prime and intergroup judgement tasks showed the highest level of superior recall for positive ingroup and negative outgroup stereotype-consistent words compared to stereotype-neutral words. This finding suggests that the expression of intergroup discrimination activates the use of both positive ingroup and negative outgroup stereotypes. Together the findings of these two studies provide empirical support for the notion that stereotypes serve social as well as cognitive functions. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.