General nurses, psychiatric nurses and lay people were investigated to identify differences between their personal standards concerning how they should respond, and beliefs about how they actually would respond, towards the target group, ‘people with schizophrenia’, in each of three response domains (thinking, feeling and behaving). Significant differences were identified between the response types and between the different response domains. Significant interaction effects were also identified based on participants professional status in nursing. It is argued that the results support Devine’s (1989) theory concerning the automatic activation of stereotypes and their controlled inhibition in favour of different personal beliefs. It is also argued that professional specialization in psychiatric nursing facilitates this process in relation to the target group.