Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Two studies examined the categorization function of stereotypes and differences in ethnic information processing as a function of group membership. The relationships of attitudes, contact, and information with stereotyping also were studied. A first study examined the responses of 91 subjects to an ingroup label (English Canadians), two outgroup labels (French Canadians and Americans), and no-information label (Pireneans), and a high relevance label (Myself). The second study assessed the stereotypes of 40 Canadians, 40 Chinese regarding five ethnic labels: Canadians, Chinese, Americans, Filipinos, and Mexicans. Response latencies to stereotypic items were compared to response latencies of non-stereotypic items to examine the categorization function of stereotypes. Response latencies, as well as response extremity and variability, associated with the different group labels were compared to test the assumption that people have a more homogeneous representation of outgroups than of their ingroup. It was found that stereotypes serve a categorization function in that stereotypic attributes were processed more rapidly than non-stereotypic attributes mainly for salient ethnic labels which elicited more articulated stereotypes than less salient ethnic labels. In terms of differences in the processing of group labels, it was found, as predicted by the assumption of homogeneity, that salient outgroup labels were processed more rapidly than ingroup labels. Salient outgroup labels also were given more polarized ratings than ingroup labels for descriptive dimensions. When groups were rated on evaluative dimensions, ingroup favouritism had an overriding effect on the homogeneity assumption, in that ingroup ratings were more polarized than outgroup ratings. These findings were obtained in both studies regardless of the ingroup examined. The seondary analyses revealed the attitudes were relatively independent of stereotypes, except for ingroup stereotypes which were always evaluative and correlated with attitudes, reflecting an ingroup bias. The findings have important implications in the field of intergroup relations since social representations were found to vary as a function of (1) group membership, (2) outgroup salience, and (3) the nature of the judgments involved (evaluative vs. descriptive).



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