Publié le 15 octobre 2021 Mis à jour le 13 décembre 2021
Complément date
de 10h30 à 12h
Amphithéâtre Paul Collomp, 17 rue Paul Collomp

Diane PECHER de l'Université de Rotterdam présentera la conférence "Cultural evolution of stereotypes" le jeudi 21 octobre 2021.


People often make assumptions about others based on perceptible features such as gender, age, or skin color. Such assumptions are based on stereotypes, for example that women are more caring than men. At least partly, stereotypes might be the result of general cognitive mechanisms such as generalization and memory limitations. We studied the evolution of stereotypes using the social transmission paradigm (Martin, Hutchison, Slessor, Urquhart, Cunningham, & Smith, 2014). Participants studied “aliens” that can be categorized by perceptible features (shape, color, and movement). During the study phase each alien was presented with personality attributes (e.g., serious, arrogant). At test, participants recalled these attributes for each individual alien. The recalled attributes from one participant were then given to the next participant for study. This way a chain of different “generations” is created that transmits information from one generation to the next. Each chain started with random attributes assigned to aliens, but with each generation recall became more stereotypical. We found that participants were likely to recall similar attributes for aliens that look similar. In the original experiment some aliens were never studied, forcing participants to guess their attributes. In follow up studies we reduced the need for participants to guess by presenting all aliens for study. The results still showed the formation of stereotypes. We then introduced “gossip” about groups of aliens and found that memory of the attributes was influenced by this gossip. This project is still ongoing but a preliminary conclusion is that imperfect memory leads to stereotyping.