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Br J Soc Psychol. 2000 Mar;39 ( Pt 1):45-63.

In what sense are prejudicial beliefs personal? The importance of an in-group's shared stereotypes.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.


This experiment investigated the role that group membership and shared stereotypes play in the expression of intergroup prejudice. In three independent conditions schoolchildren (N = 96) used a checklist to describe Australian Aborigines with reference to the cultural stereotype and their personal beliefs. In two conditions Aborigines were also described with reference to the beliefs of a relevant in-group (with or without group interaction). In all conditions an independent prejudice measure was also completed. Following Devine and Elliot (1995), personal beliefs were always better predictors of prejudice than the cultural stereotype. However, shared group beliefs were better predictors of prejudice than personal beliefs elicited in the abstract, and personal beliefs were more predictive of prejudice in conditions where they were informed by a salient group membership. These patterns suggest that personal beliefs are more predictive of prejudice when they reflect stereotypic beliefs shared within an in-group rather than individuals' idiosyncratic views.

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