“THE CASUAL CRUELTY OF OUR PREJUDICES”: ON WALTER LIPPMANN'S THEORY OF STEREOTYPE AND ITS “OBLITERATION” IN PSYCHOLOGY AND SOCIAL SCIENCE
Version of Record online: 30 AUG 2012
© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Volume 48, Issue 4, pages 363–394, Autumn 2012
How to Cite
BOTTOM, W. P. and KONG, D. T. (2012), “THE CASUAL CRUELTY OF OUR PREJUDICES”: ON WALTER LIPPMANN'S THEORY OF STEREOTYPE AND ITS “OBLITERATION” IN PSYCHOLOGY AND SOCIAL SCIENCE. J. Hist. Behav. Sci., 48: 363–394. doi: 10.1002/jhbs.21565
- Issue online: 12 OCT 2012
- Version of Record online: 30 AUG 2012
Reflecting on his wartime government service, Walter Lippmann (1922) developed a theory of policy formulation and error. Introducing the constructs of stereotype, mental model, blind spots, and the process of manufacturing consent, his theory prescribed interdisciplinary social science as a tool for enhancing policy making in business and government. Lippmann used his influence with the Rockefeller foundations, business leaders, Harvard and the University of Chicago to gain support for this program. Citation analysis of references to “stereotype” and Lippmann reveals the rapid spread of the concept across the social sciences and in public discourse paralleled by obliteration by incorporation of the wider theory in behavioral science. “Stereotype” is increasingly invoked in anthropology, economics, and sociology though Lippmann and his wider theory ceased being cited decades ago. In psychology, citations are increasing but content analysis revealed blind spots and misconceptions about the theory and prescription. Studies of heuristics, biases, and organizational decision substantiate Lippmann's theory of judgment and choice. But his model for social science failed to consider the bounded rationality and blind spots of its practitioners. Policy formulation today is supported by research from narrow disciplinary silos not interdisciplinary science that reflects an awareness of history.