Stereotyping of the elderly: a functional approach.

M. Snyder, P. K. Miene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In two studies, we investigated the functions served by stereotyping of the elderly. Theoretical analysis suggested that stereotyping of the elderly may serve a cognitive economy function (that is, by reducing processing demands on the perceiver), an ego protective function (that is, by protecting the self from perceived threats), and/or a social function (that is, by helping identify with a social in-group). We designed interventions, intended to reduce stereotyping of the elderly, based on these three hypothesized functions and administered them to male and female college students. The results showed that, compared to a no-intervention control, the ego protection intervention effectively reduced stereotyping in an illusory correlation task for women. By contrast, the ego protection intervention appeared to have a stereotype-arousing effect for men. A second study involving only the ego protection intervention generally replicated these basic findings. We discuss possible sources of these differential effects, as well as implications of this research for a functional approach to stereotyping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalThe British journal of social psychology / the British Psychological Society
StatePublished - Mar 1 1994


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