On the Courtroom Use and Misuse of Gender Stereotyping Research

Authors

  • Eugene Borgida,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Minnesota
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      EUGENE BORGIDA is Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Minnesota. He recently completed stints as Associate Dean for Research and Planning in the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts and as a member of SPSSI Council. Borgida received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan in 1976. His research interests include social cognition, psychology and law, and political psychology. He is currently working on two books—a monograph with Tom R. Tyler on social psychology and law for Westview Press' series on New Directions in Social Psychology, and a text with John L. Sullivan on political psychology for Cambridge University Press.

  • Laurie A. Rudman,

    1. University of Minnesota
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      LAURIE A. RUDMAN is a doctoral candidate in social psychology and NSF Fellow in Psychology at the University of Minnesota. Her core interests lie in the areas of social cognition, stereotyping, social justice, and applied attitude research. She has publications in several social psychological journals on these topics, including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

  • Laurie L. Manteufel

    1. University of Minnesota
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      LAURIE L. MANTEUFEL is a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the University of Minnesota. She received her B. A. (summa cum laude) in psychology from the University of Minnesota. Her primary research interests include decision making and attitude-behavior relations, with a particular focus on gender stereotypes and sexual harassment in the workplace. She is also interested in the interface between both social and I/O psychology and the law, with a particular focus on EEOC-related issues and the effects of electronic media coverage of courtroom trials.


Department of Psychology, Elliott Hall, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Abstract

Expert psychological testimony in recent sex discrimination and sexual harassment cases has presented fact finders with a conceptual framework for understanding the antecedents and consequences of gender stereotyping. In this article, we focus on perhaps the most scientifically complex aspect of research on gender stereotyping—namely, the role that individuating information plays in stereotypical thinking. Although a preponderance of evidence suggests that stereotypes are likely to influence impressions and evaluations when perceivers have either minimal or ambiguous information about another person, there is the potential for attorneys and even some expert witnesses to misconstrue this aspect of the scientific data base. We review briefly pertinent findings on the relationship between stereotypes and individuating information, and discuss some of the reasons why this evidence could be misrepresented.

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