Person theories and attention allocation: Preferences for stereotypic versus counterstereotypic information

Jason E. Plaks, Steven J. Stroessner, Carol S. Dweck, Jeffrey Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

145 Scopus citations


How do people respond to information that counters a stereotype? Do they approach it or avoid it? Four experiments showed that attention to stereotype-consistent vs. -inconsistent information depends on people's implicit theories about human traits. Those holding an entity theory (the belief that traits are fixed) consistently displayed greater attention to (Experiments 1 and 4) and recognition of (Experiments 2 and 3) consistent information, whereas those holding an incremental (dynamic) theory tended to display greater attention to (Experiment 1) and recognition of (Experiment 3) inconsistent information. This was true whether implicit theories were measured as chronic structures (Experiments 1, 2, and 4) or were experimentally manipulated (Experiment 3). Thus, different a priori assumptions about human traits and behavior lead to processing that supports versus limits stereotype maintenance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)876-893
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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