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Stupid doctors and smart construction workers: Perspective-taking reduces stereotyping of both negative and positive targets


Social Psychological and Personality Science


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Wang C S;Ku G;Tai K;Galinsky A D


Publication Year



Numerous studies have found that perspective-taking reduces stereotyping and prejudice, but they have only involved negative stereotypes. Because target negativity has been empirically confounded with reduced stereotyping, the general effects of perspective-taking on stereotyping and prejudice are unclear. By including both positively and negatively stereotyped targets, this research offers the first empirical test of two competing hypotheses: The positivity hypothesis predicts that perspective-taking produces a positivity bias, with less stereotyping of negative targets but more stereotyping of positive targets. In contrast, the stereotype-reduction hypothesis predicts that perspective-taking reduces stereotyping, regardless of target valence. Three studies support the stereotype-reduction hypothesis. Perspective-taking also produced less positive attitudes toward positive targets, with reduced stereotyping mediating this effect. A final study demonstrated that perspective-taking reduced all stereotyping because it increased self–other overlap. These findings help answer fundamental questions about perspective-taking’s effects and processes, and provide evidence that perspective-taking does not improve attitudes invariantly.


Prejudice/stereotyping; Intergroup relations; Perspective-taking; Self/identity; Self-esteem

Available on ECCH


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