Capacity and comprehension: Spontaneous stereotyping under cognitive load

Daniël H.J. Wigboldus, Jeffrey Sherman, Heather L. Franzese, Ad Van Knippenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


People tend to make spontaneous trait inferences (STIs) when confronted with the behavior of others. Recent research has demonstrated that these STIs may be moderated by contextual cues such as Stereotypic category labels. The central aim of the current research was to investigate the role of cognitive resources in this process. Two experiments were performed in which STIs were measured using a probe recognition paradigm under low or high cognitive load. Under high cognitive load, STIs were less likely for stereotype-inconsistent than stereotype-consistent behaviors. Compared to baseline, STIs for inconsistent behaviors were less strong under high cognitive load. Under low-load, no differences in STIs as a function of stereotypes were found. These findings support the idea that stereotypes are especially likely to affect STIs when resources are low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-309
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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