Advances in Experimental Social Psychology - Chapter 5 - Toward capturing the functional and nuanced nature of social stereotypes: An affordance management approach

Elsevier, Advances in Social Psychology, Volume 62, Pages 245-304
Steven L. Neuberg, Keelah E.G. Williams, Oliver Sng, Cari M. Pick, Rebecca Neel, Jaimie Arona Krems, and Angela G. Pirlott

The affordance-management approach conceptualizes stereotyping, stereotype content, prejudices, and discriminatory inclinations as interlinked cognitive, affective, and behavioral tools used to manage the social opportunities and threats afforded by other people. Presenting research from our labs, we show how the affordance management approach enhances understanding of why people are especially likely to categorize others using certain features (rather than alternative features), what the specific contents of our stereotypes are likely to be (and why this content is more nuanced than typically revealed by existing research), and how and why these stereotypes elicit similarly nuanced and functionally-linked prejudices and discrimination. We focus this discussion of stereotypes and stereotyping on the features of sex, age, home ecology, race, sexual orientation, and body size/shape, and we present novel concepts such as “directed” and “within-group” stereotypes. Then, elaborating on the specific, functional links between stereotypes and prejudices/discrimination, we present a novel distinction between “base” and “affordance” stereotypes, and we highlight the implications of the framework for better understanding sexual prejudices and “invisibility” stigma. We then briefly discuss the implications of our approach for stereotype accuracy and the psychology of those targeted by stereotypes, stereotyping, prejudices, and discrimination. In all, the affordance management approach to stereotyping and stereotypes generates a large number of novel predictions and findings, some of which pose significant challenges to popular traditional approaches to stereotype content, stereotyping, and prejudice.