Priming Prejudice How Stereotypes and Counter-Stereotypes Influence Attribution of Responsibility and Credibility among Ingroups and Outgroups


  • A previous version of the article was presented at the annual meetings of the International Communication Association, Sydney, Australia, July 1994. The authors wish to thank Professors Jeffrey Cole and Kelly Madison, Mark Jones, Mark Wehrly, and Timothy Ryan for their help in collecting the data.


The research examines the effect of priming negative stereotypic and positive counter-stereotypic portrayals of African Americans (Study 1) and women (Study 2) on interpretations of actual media events. A counter-stereotypic portrayal of an African American male led participants to subsequently make more external or situational attributions of responsibility to other African American males involved in unrelated media events (i.e., Rodney King and Magic Johnson), whereas stereotypic portrayals led to more internal or personal attributions. Similarly, a counter-stereotypic portrayal of a female tended to increase the perceived credibility of females involved in unrelated media events (i.e., the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings and the William Kennedy Smith/Patricia Bowman rape trial) whereas stereotypic portrayals decreased their perceived credibility. Study 2 also revealed an ingroup-outgroup bias in the interpretation of media events, with females tending to be more sympathetic toward other females. Implications of these findings are discussed and suggestions made for future research.