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Stereotype Efficiency Reconsidered: Encoding Flexibility under Cognitive Load, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


According to the encoding flexibility model, stereotypes are efficient because they facilitate, in different ways, the encoding of both stereotype-consistent and -inconsistent information when capacity is low. Whereas inconsistent information receives more extensive attention and perceptual encoding, the conceptual meaning of consistent information is extracted to a greater degree. Experiments 1-2 demonstrated that, under low capacity conditions, perceivers attend more carefully to inconsistent than consistent information. Experiment 3 showed that participants forced to attend selectively to either consistent or inconsistent information encoded inconsistent information more extensively when capacity was depleted. Experiment 4 demonstrated that perceptual encoding favors inconsistent over consistent information. Finally, Experiment 5 showed that, despite the attentional and perceptual encoding advantages for inconsistent information, conceptual encoding favors consistent information when capacity is low




Jeffrey W. Sherman, Angela Y. Lee, Gayle R Bessenoff, Leigh A. Frost

Date Published



Sherman, Jeffrey W., Angela Y. Lee, Gayle R Bessenoff, and Leigh A. Frost. 1998. Stereotype Efficiency Reconsidered: Encoding Flexibility under Cognitive Load. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 75(3): 589-606.


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