Stereotyping of the elderly: A functional approach

Mark Snyder, Peter K. Miene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


In two studies, we investigated the functions served by stereotyping of the elderly. Theoretical analysis suggested that stereotyping of the elderly may serve a cognitive economy function (that is, by reducing processing demands on the perceiver), an ego protective function (that is, by protecting the self from perceived threats), and/or a social function (that is, by helping identify with a social in‐group). We designed interventions, intended to reduce stereotyping of the elderly, based on these three hypothesized functions and administered them to male and female college students. The results showed that, compared to a no‐intervention control, the ego protection intervention effectively reduced stereotyping in an illusory correlation task for women. By contrast, the ego protection intervention appeared to have a stereotype‐arousing effect for men. A second study involving only the ego protection intervention generally replicated these basic findings. We discuss possible sources of these differential effects, as well as implications of this research for a functional approach to stereotyping. 1994 The British Psychological Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-82
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1994


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