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Assessing Stereotypes of Black and White Managers: A Diagnostic Ratio Approach


  • The authors thank Madeline Heilman, Richard Martell, and Loriann Roberson for their helpful suggestions and comments on this article.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Caryn J. Block, Department of Organization and Leadership, Program in Social and Organizational Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 W. 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. E-mail:


This study investigated whether racial group membership is diagnostic in predicting the characteristics ascribed to managers. Scales were created to examine the work-relevant racial stereotypes of Black and White managers. Following the diagnostic ratio approach to assessing stereotypes, participants rated the likelihood that characteristics from each scale were descriptive of Black and White managers. We found that White managers were stereotyped as more competent, ambitious, and manipulative; whereas Black managers were stereotyped as more interpersonally skilled and less polished. Additionally, we examined whether success information would ameliorate the effects of these stereotypes. Once success information was made explicit, differences in the achievement-oriented scales (competence and ambition) were eliminated. However, differences in the social-oriented scales (interpersonally skilled, manipulative, unpolished) still persisted.