In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Stereotypes

  • Introduction
  • Anthologies
  • Structures and Processes
  • Theoretical Approaches
  • Media Portrayals
  • Language and Discourse
  • Outcomes
  • Change through Communication

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Communication Stereotypes
Mary Lee Hummert
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 February 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0040


The study of the relationship between stereotypes and communication is strongly interdisciplinary, involving not only communication scholars from many areas (interpersonal, discourse, organizational, mass media, computer-mediated communication, and so forth) but also social psychologists, sociolinguists, psycholinguists, and political scientists. In particular, the attention to stereotypes by communication scholars and to communication by social psychologists has helped advance scientific knowledge of the influence of stereotypes as cognitions on communicative behaviors—even at the level of word choice—and the equally strong influence of communication in all its forms on the construction and persistence of stereotypes. The research from both communication and psychological approaches has primarily applied social-scientific theories and methods to the study of stereotypes and communication, providing critical insights into stereotyping as an interpersonal communication process in which the influence of stereotypical beliefs is often implicit, that is, outside the conscious awareness of communicators. Media scholars have added to these insights by highlighting the ways mass media reflect and perpetuate social stereotypes. Discourse scholars have contributed yet another important layer of knowledge, showing how writers and speakers subtly implicate and instantiate stereotypes in text and talk. All of these approaches—interpersonal communication and psychology, discourse, and mass media—have considered the effects of communicative stereotyping on individuals and societies, strategies to reduce negative outcomes, and communication as a resource to lessen stereotyping.


These anthologies provide a balance between communication and psychological approaches to the study of stereotypes and communication. Giles, et al. 2010; Harwood and Giles 2005; and Hecht 1998 emphasize stereotyping in communication, its features, and its consequences, and Kashima, et al. 2008 has a thematic focus on language and stereotyping. Lott and Maluso 1995; Nelson 2009; and Spears, et al. 1997 approach communicative aspects of stereotypes through a social-psychological lens. Stangor 2000 is a collection of classic and late-20th-century works on stereotypes and prejudice with implications for communication.

  • Giles, Howard, Scott Reid, and Jake Harwood, eds. 2010. The dynamics of intergroup communication. New York: Peter Lang.

    International authors present late-20th- and early-21st-century research on intergroup communication in a scholarly yet accessible manner. Major theories of stereotyping, group identities, and intergroup communication are represented, including communication accommodation, social identity, self-categorization, and linguistic intergroup bias, among others. Chapters consider a wide range of social groups and communication contexts.

  • Harwood, Jake, and Howard Giles, eds. 2005. Intergroup communication: Multiple perspectives. New York: Peter Lang.

    This volume contains chapters by international scholars in communication and social psychology that examine how intergroup perceptions and social identities affect and are reflected in communication. Group stereotypes and communication are addressed in several chapters, including those on disability, age, gender and sexual identity, and mass communication.

  • Hecht, Michael L., ed. 1998. Communicating prejudice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Prejudice is linked to negative stereotypes. Each chapter in this volume reviews relevant research and provides the author’s personal experience with prejudiced communication. Topics include communicating different forms of prejudice, such as sexism and ageism, in a variety of contexts and interventions to reduce prejudiced communication.

  • Kashima, Yoshihisa, Klaus Fiedler, and Peter Freytag, eds. 2008. Stereotype dynamics: Language-based approaches to the formation, maintenance, and transformation of stereotypes. New York: Erlbaum.

    Noted international contributors examine closely the ways language and interpersonal communication are integral to stereotypes and stereotyping. Several theoretical perspectives are represented, including social identity, stereotype threat, semiotics, and cultural. Although the contributors are primarily social psychologists, the volume is highly relevant to those in communication, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics.

  • Lott, Bernice, and Diane Maluso, eds. 1995. The social psychology of interpersonal discrimination. New York: Guilford.

    This volume takes a social psychological perspective on the emergence of negative stereotypes as discrimination in interpersonal behavior. Forms of discrimination covered include passive behaviors, such as ignoring, and active behaviors, such as derision. Discriminative behavior based on gender, age, class, and sexual orientation is discussed.

  • Nelson, Todd D., ed. 2009. Handbook of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. New York: Psychology Press.

    This anthology provides a comprehensive examination of early-21st-century psychological theory and research on the stereotyping process from the development of stereotypes to their expression in interaction as biased behavior. Noted social psychologist contributors address such topics as automatic influences on stereotyping and insights from neuropsychological research.

  • Spears, Russell, Penelope J. Oakes, Naomi Ellemers, and S. Alexander Haslam, eds. 1997. The social psychology of stereotyping and group life. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

    Contributors to this volume provide a discussion of the psychological process of stereotyping from the perspective of social identity and self-categorization theories. Chapters address stereotyping as an active process that draws on the intersection of individual and group identities in interpersonal interaction.

  • Stangor, Charles, ed. 2000. Stereotypes and prejudice: Essential readings. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

    Stangor provides a useful anthology of classic and late-20th-century articles in social psychology that have been influential in building knowledge and theory on stereotypes and stereotyping and the prejudicial behaviors that can result from them. Eminent psychologists of stereotyping represented include Henri Tajfel, Patricia Devine, and Susan Fiske, among others.

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