The influence of ethnicity, social class, and context on judgments about U.S. women

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In 2 studies, the authors investigated impression formation as influenced by category-based stereotypes associated with ethnicity and social class. The participants in Study 1 made judgments about 1 target woman, described as interested in running for office in the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) of her children's school. The hypothetical woman was presented to the respondents along with her photograph and information about her ethnic background (Anglo-Saxon, Latina, or Jewish) and occupation (middle class or working class). In Study 2, the authors changed the context and presented a younger target woman (also varied by ethnicity and social class) to the respondents as the new girlfriend of their older brother or cousin. In both studies, judgments were assessed by the participants' responses to 45 bipolar adjectives that, in each case, yielded 8 component factors. In both hypothetical contexts, social class was a powerful trigger for a variety of negative expectations: With respect to ethnicity, the Latina women were judged to be more unsuitable for the job of PTO vice president than were the Anglo-Saxon or Jewish women. The authors discussed potential psychological and social consequences of such category-based judgments.

Publication Title

Journal of Social Psychology