Stereotype Accuracy

Do stereotypes contain a grain of truth? According to Satoshi Kanazawa [1], yes:

“Stereotypes” have a bad name, and everybody hates stereotypes. But what exactly is a stereotype?

What people call “stereotypes” are what scientists call “empirical generalizations,” and they are the foundation of scientific theory. That’s what scientists do; they make generalizations. Many stereotypes are empirical generalizations with a statistical basis and thus on average tend to be true. If they are not true, they wouldn’t be stereotypes.

But how accurate are they, anyways? In a review of the literature, Jussim, et al. (2009) found that stereotypes tend to be highly accurate, especially when judged in terms of the standards adopted in the behavioral sciences:

Table 4 compares the frequency with which social psychological research produces effects exceeding correlations of r = .30 and r = .50, with the frequency with which the correlations reflecting the extent to which people’s stereotypes correspond to criteria exceed r = .30 and r = .50. Only 24% of social psychological effects exceed correlations of r = .30 and only 5% exceed r = .50. In contrast, all 18 of the aggregate/consensual stereotype accuracy correlations shown in Table 1 and Table 2 exceed r = .30, and all but two exceed r =.50. Furthermore, nine of eleven personal stereotype accuracy correlations exceeded r = .30, and four of eleven exceed r = .50.

[1] Kanazawa, 2008. All stereotypes are true, except… I: What are stereotypes? Psychology Today, April 24.
[2] Jussim, et al., 2009. The Unbearable Accuracy of Stereotypes

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2 Responses to Stereotype Accuracy

  1. Veronica says:

    Very good article. I am facing some of these issues as well.

  2. Dataz.Co.Uk says:

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