Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Social Perception and Social RealityWhy Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Lee Jussim

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366600.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 December 2020

On the Pervasiveness and Logical Incoherence of Defining Stereotypes as Inaccurate

On the Pervasiveness and Logical Incoherence of Defining Stereotypes as Inaccurate

(p.269) 15 On the Pervasiveness and Logical Incoherence of Defining Stereotypes as Inaccurate
Social Perception and Social Reality

Lee Jussim

Oxford University Press

This chapter defines stereotypes. Part of doing so involves explaining why stereotypes should not (indeed, logically, cannot) be defined as inaccurate. This claim is so controversial that the chapter begins by considering whether it is immoral to even suggest that it might be unwise to define stereotypes as inaccurate. This chapter concludes that it is both scientifically and politically irresponsible to suggest that social beliefs (including stereotypes) are inaccurate when, in fact, those beliefs are accurate. Next, definitions that presume stereotype inaccuracy are considered. All such definitions are found to be scientifically dysfunctional either because they are logically incoherent or because they would lead to the dismissal as irrelevant nearly all social science research that has addressed stereotypes. A discussion then follows demonstrating numerous situations in which social scientists take for granted the reality of group differences and accuracy in perceiving them. This is one type of incoherence: Social scientists do not have the option of defining beliefs about groups as inaccurate and then treating their own beliefs about groups as accurate. The chapter speculates that sociopolitical motives (promoting oneself as an unbigoted egalitarian, expressing concern for inequality) create the social pressure that has sustained such problematic definitions. The chapter also points out that many perspectives providing a seemingly neutral definition of stereotypes (ones that do not define stereotypes as inaccurate) often reimport an emphasis on inaccuracy through the “back door”—by relentlessly emphasizing stereotypes’ inaccuracy upon further discussion. The chapter concludes by providing a truly neutral definition of stereotypes (allowing them to be accurate or inaccurate) and by emphasizing the scientific benefits of a genuinely neutral definition, without back-door distortions.

Keywords:   stereotypes, defining stereotypes, accuracy, inaccuracy

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .