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To what extent can we consider self-fulfilling prophecies as responsible of the maintenance of stereotypes?

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  1. Some studies reveal the existence of automaticity in attitudes and social cognition
  2. Researchers seem to agree on the different effects that lead to renewal of stereotypes (the different self-fulfulling prophecies)
  3. However, the school case highlights some divergent voices, which suggest another situation-behavioral response model

Stereotypes are a quite important part of social life and attitudes, they are everywhere, conscious or not, leading to discrimination. Most of the people are aware of their existence, are aware that they do not necessarily reflect the reality (and most of the time they do not reflect it at all), but they still last over time. That's why we could wonder if there is a link existing between the behavioral change of people while stereotype activation, and stereotypes prosperity, and which could be this link. We could wonder if there is a kind of vicious circle, endless, which could nurture stereotypes: the behavioral change due to stereotypes because people are aware of them (this is called self-fulfilling prophecies) could reinforce the initial stereotype, leading to an even stronger stereotype, itself leading to another behavioral change toward this stereotype,... Finally, the main question is: what is the role of self-fulfilling prophecies in the maintenance of stereotypes?

[...] Moreover, the automatic behaviors are negative (rudeness, hostility, ) and they happen anyway, despite the fact that they are contrary to social norms (that everyone follows) : this fact shows how strong these automatic effects are. This question seems to be unanswerable : some people could control their behavioral responses to some environmental stimuli, but some other could not, it depends on personal factors. Finally, despite few examples that show that self-fulfilling prophecies do not always happen, it seems to me that their control over the society is undeniably strong. [...]


[...] When it comes to stereotype analysis and self-fulfilling prophecies, the school case is a controversial one. Some researchers argue that the success of students is closely linked to the expectations and behaviors of the teachers, but for others, teachers' expectations are not responsible of this success. Stereotypes about the «good student» can be the basis of teachers' expectations, that is why the stereotype can be self-fulfilling if the teacher unconsciously helps the student to reach a certain success. On this topic, J. [...]


[...] One could argue that it is part of the theory, boys' attitude correspond to its stereotype. But an important point of the article is the speaking of girls' violence: girls are probably as violent as boys, they only hide it better and/or more, because they know they are going to be punished. This could lead to the conclusion that boys are not more violent than girls, but girls hide more their violence. This article shows that the self-fulfilling caracter of stereotypes is not always the cause of stereotype-consistent behaviors: the stereotype as for which girls are sweeter and nicer than boys is not verified because girls are indeed nicer, but because they hide the behaviors that go against this idea. [...]


[...] It is thus why the behavioral domain is so important: there is a necessity that the stereotype is linked with performance in a domain in which the participant has enough capacity in, to be to feel threatened. Moreover, to be able to properly measure the self-stereotype threat, participants have to be told that the test is in order to show some sex/ethnicity/ . differences, otherwise the result would not be relevant (this would be a test without any stereotype activation). C. Steele & J. Aronson's article (1995) is totally relevant to illustrate this point. [...]


[...] (1994). Ironic processes of mental control. Psychological Review 34-52. doi: 10.1037 /0033-295X Wheeler, S.C., & Petty, R.E. (2001). The effects of stereotype activation on behavior: a review of possible mechanisms. Psychological bulletin 797-826. [...]

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