The effect of stereotype activation on spontaneous inferences

Pei Wang1, Ai-hua Tao2, Fan Gao3, Yi-wen Xie3
1Faculty of Education, East China Normal University, People’s Republic of China
2School of Education Science, Nantong University, People’s Republic of China
3Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Wang, P., Tao, A.-h., Gao, F., & Xie, Y.-w. (2019). The effect of stereotype activation on spontaneous inferences. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 47, e7470.

Volume 47 Issue 8 | e7470 | Published: August 2019 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.7470

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We adopted the probe recognition paradigm to examine the effect of stereotype activation on spontaneous inferences among Chinese undergraduates (N = 48). First, behavioral sentences involving trait-implying behavior and corresponding situational information were simultaneously presented. We then selected stereotype labels of the actor’s behavior that were consistent or inconsistent with the behavior, and which were activated either supraliminally or subliminally. The results showed that whether a stereotype was activated supraliminally or subliminally, the influence on spontaneous inferences was the same. Specifically, when the stereotype was inconsistent with the actor’s behavior, spontaneous situational inferences were facilitated, and when the stereotype was consistent with the actor’s behavior, spontaneous trait inferences were not facilitated. As Chinese people may be more prone to spontaneous (vs. trait) inferences, this indicates that human inferences are deeply influenced by culture.

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