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How can a stereotype inconsistency bias be encouraged in communication?


  • Australian Research Council Discovery Grant, DP0450518, awarded to Yoshihisa Kashima

Correspondence: Ain Simpson, Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic 3010, Australia. Email:


This study aimed to investigate what conditions can lead to a bias for communicating stereotype inconsistent (SI) information, relative to stereotype consistent (SC) information. Sixty-three undergraduate university students (22 males, 41 females; Mage = 21.25) read a story about an Arab man who exhibited characteristics consistent and inconsistent with the stereotype of Arab men. The story was transmitted through 21 three-person communication chains; each participant rewrote the story from memory for the next person in the chain to read, with only the first participant in each chain reading the original story. As hypothesized, when a surprising category conjunction was formed by pairing the primary stereotype (Arab men) with a secondary stereotype of a contradictory nature (kindergarten teachers), SC information was circulated less than SI information. This was also the case when a causal explanation was provided that accounted for the unexpected SI information. Findings indicate the potential of techniques that elicit cognitive elaboration of SI information to encourage an SI bias in communication, and show promise for exploring ways to reduce the impact of negative stereotypical information in the long term.

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