How Are Stereotypes Maintained Through Communication? The Influence of Stereotype Sharedness. Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent research has suggested that interpersonal communication may be an important source of stereotype maintenance. When communicated through a chain of people, stereotype-relevant information tends to become more stereotypical, thus confirming the stereotypes held by recipients of communication. However, the underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon have yet to be fully determined. This article examines how the socially shared nature of stereotypes interacts with communication processes to maintain stereotypes in communication chains. In 3 experiments, participants communicated a stereotype-relevant story through 4-person chains using the method of serial reproduction. Manipulations included the extent to which communicators believed their audience and other community members shared and endorsed their stereotypes, and also the extent to which they actually shared the stereotypes. The shared nature of stereotypes was found to be a strong contributor to rendering the story more stereotypical in communication. This is discussed in relation to the maintenance of stereotypes through communication.

publication date

  • December 1, 2003