Our specification tells us that we must study: Stereotypes

The IB explain stereotypes as “rather generalized and rather fixed ways of thinking about a group of people”

They list the following two suggestions in the content column:

  • The development of stereotypes with reference to one or more examples
  • The effect of stereotypes with reference to one or more examples

Before we start looking at stereotypes , I like to look at Moscovici’s Social Representations Theory, which may also be useful for TOK and helps link our topics together. It also prompts us t take a look at a fantastic research study which is great for learning about the use of focus groups in social psychology.

If you enjoyed learning about the Howarth study you might like to learn more about eh Brixton Race Riots in the 1980s.


Crank up your speakers and get in the mood to brain storm some stereotypes!
Getting started:
A couple of activities to try: katz and braly.notebookMcCauley and Stitt

The Development/formation of Stereotypes

Detailed info on illusory correlation

Effects of stereotypes on behaviour of people who are stereotyped

Yes its Wiki but this does seem to me to be a good review of the evidence linking to the phenomena of stereotype threat which is an excellent example of the way in which stereotyping affects behaviour. Interesting evaluation looking at the Obama Effect where stereotype threat for Afro-Americans declined following his acceptance speech.
Study which evaluates stereotype threat:
Henry, J., Hippel, C., & Shapiro, L. (2010). Stereotype threat contributes to social difficulties in people with schizophrenia. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 49 (1), 31-41 DOI: 10.1348/014466509X421963
Perfect for critical thinking in an essay:

Effects of stereotypes on behaviour

Original article by Bargh et al (1996) who found that unconscious priming with info linked to the stereotype ‘elderly’ made people walk more slowly!

Are you prejudiced?

Prejudice is really hard to study as many will not answer questionnaires truthfully due to social desirability bias but also some of us may not be aware of our underlying prejudices; try this test and see what happens…Implicit association test:UnderstandingPrejudice_org Implicit Association Test.mht

Further reading

Assessment Questions


  1. Explain one way stereotyping can affect behaviour. (9)
  2. Describe one study  relating to the effect of stereotyping on behaviour. (9)


  1. Discuss the effects of stereotypes on behaviour. (22)
  2. Evaluate research into stereotypes. (22)
  3. To what extent do stereotypes affect human behaviour. (22)

Model Answer: SAQ – SAQ stereotyping