Stereotypes as dominant responses: On the "social facilitation" of prejudice in anticipated public contexts. Academic Article uri icon

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  • This article challenges the highly intuitive assumption that prejudice should be less likely in public compared with private settings. It proposes that stereotypes may be conceptualized as a type of dominant response (C. L. Hull, 1943; R. B. Zajonc, 1965) whose expression may be enhanced in public settings, especially among individuals high in social anxiety. Support was found for this framework in an impression formation paradigm (Experiment 1) and in a speeded task designed to measure stereotypic errors in perceptual identification (Experiment 2). Use of the process dissociation procedure (B. K. Payne, L. L. Jacoby, & A. J. Lambert, in press) demonstrated that these effects were due to decreases in cognitive control rather than increases in stereotype accessibility. The findings highlight a heretofore unknown and ironic consequence of anticipated public settings: Warning people that others may be privy to their responses may actually increase prejudice among the very people who are most worried about doing the wrong thing in public.


  • Lambert, Alan J
  • Payne, B Keith
  • Jacoby, Larry Leroy
  • Shaffer, Lara M
  • Chasteen, Alison L
  • Khan, Saera R

publication date

  • February 2003