Effects of Information on Patient Stereotyping



The influence of information on nurse attitudes and behavior toward a member of a stereotyped group was investigated. Responsibility for the decision to be childless and the intelligence of the person making that decision were manipulated. Student nurses individually interacted with a hypothetical, childless, female patient, presented via audiotape, who was about to undergo surgery for sterilization. The patient was described (a) as seeking sterilization either voluntarily or because of medical necessity, and (b) as either retarded or not classified intellectually. It was hypothesized that the patient who freely chose childlessness would be viewed and treated less positively when thought to be of normal intelligence. When the patient was mildly retarded or seeking sterilization out of medical necessity, however, more positive attitudes and behavior were expected. Both of these hypotheses were supported. The results of this study support the importance of contextual variables on perceptions of patients.