In unexpected encounters or casual conversations, such mental calculations are unnecessary and may even work to our disadvantage, especially if we need to render rapid judgments and act on them.USING STEREOTYPESIn the movie Mud(2012), Ellis at first believes that Mud is a dangerous and untrustworthy fugitive. However, as Ellis learns more about Mud’s past, his perceptions of him evolve from distrust to a close friendship. How have you used algebraic impressions to get closer to or distance yourself from a friend?A final way we form impressions is to categorize people into social groups and then evaluate them based on information we have in our schemata related to these groups (Bodenhausen, Macrae, & Sherman, 1999). This is known as stereotyping,a term first coined by journalist Walter Lippmann (1922) to describe overly simplistic interpersonal impressions. When we
stereotype others, we replace the subtle complexities that make people unique with blanket assumptions about their character and worth based solely on their social group affiliation.We stereotype because doing so streamlines the perception process. Once we’ve categorized a person as a member of a particular group, we can apply all of the information we have about that group to form a quick impression (Bodenhausen et al., 1999). For example, suppose a friend introduces you to Conor, an Irish transfer student. Once you perceive Conor as “Irish,” beliefs that you might hold about Irish people could come to mind: they love to tell exaggerated stories (the blarney), have bad tempers, like to drink, and are passionate about soccer. Mind you, none of these assumptions may be accurate about Irish people or relevant to Conor. But if this is what you believeabout the Irish, you’ll keep it in mind during your conversation with Conor and look for ways to confirm your beliefs.As this example suggests, stereotyping frequently leads us to form flawed impressions of others. One study of workplace perception found that male supervisors who stereotyped women as “the weaker sex” perceived female employees’ work performance as deficient and gave women low job evaluations, regardless of the women’s actual job performance (Cleveland, Stockdale, & Murphy, 2000). A separate study examining college students’ perceptions of professors found a similar biasing effect for ethnic stereotypes. Euro-American students who stereotyped Hispanics as “laid-back” and “relaxed” perceived Hispanic professors who set high expectations for classroom performance as “colder” and “more unprofessional” than Euro-American professors who set identical standards (Smith & Anderson, 2005).Page 91Stereotyping is almost impossible to avoid. Researchers have documented that categorizing people in terms of their social group affiliation is the most common way we form impressions, more common than either Gestalts or algebraic impressions (Bodenhausen et al., 1999). Why?