Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 106–111 | Cite as

Reducing Stereotyping Through Mindfulness: Effects on Automatic Stereotype-Activated Behaviors

  • Maja Djikic
  • Ellen J. Langer
  • Sarah Fulton Stapleton
Article

Abstract

We assessed whether mindfulness (active categorization) can prevent automatic stereotype-activated behaviors related to the elderly. Eighty participants (mean age = 24.4) were given a set of photographs to prime the dimension OldAge and were asked to categorize them multiple times, to see whether the effect of the prime could be reduced through increased mindfulness. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions, where they were asked to categorize the photographs across (1) four self-generated categories; (2) four assigned categories; (3) a single category—Gender; or (4) a single category—Age. Participants’ walking speed (cf. Bargh et al. 1996, Experiment 2) was then measured, as they moved between the two experimental stations. The results show that greater mindfulness predicted greater walking speed, indicating a decrease in the effect of the automatic stereotype-activated behavior.

Keywords

Mindfulness Stereotypes Prejudice Elderly 

References

  1. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  2. Bargh, J. A., Chen, M., & Burrows, L. (1996). Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects of trait construct and stereotype activation on action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71(2), 230–244.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bar-Tal, Y. (1989). Can leaders change followers’ stereotypes? In D. Bar-Tal, C. F. Grauman, A. W. Kruglanski, & W. Stroebe (Eds.), Stereotyping and prejudice: Changing conceptions (pp. 225–242). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  4. Brewer, M. B. (1988). A dual process model of impression formation. In T. K. Srull & R. S. Wyer Jr (Eds.), Advances in social cognition (Vol. 1, pp. 1–36). Hillside, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  5. Cesario, J., Plaks, J. E., & Higgins, E. T. (2006). Automatic social behavior as motivated preparation to interact. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(6), 892–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Devine, P. G. (1989). Stereotypes and prejudice: Their automatic and controlled components. Journal of Social and Personality Psychology, 39, 360–367.Google Scholar
  7. Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58, 202–210.Google Scholar
  8. Fraboni, M., Saltstone, R., & Hughes, S. (1990). The Fraboni scale of ageism: An attempt at a more precise measure of ageism. Canadian Journal on Aging, 9(1), 56–66.Google Scholar
  9. Langer, E. J. (1978). Rethinking the role of thought in social interaction. In J. Harvey, W. Ickes, & R. Kiss (Eds.), New directions in attribution research (Vol. 2, pp. 35–58). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  10. Langer, E. J. (1989). Mindfulness. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books Group.Google Scholar
  11. Langer, E. J. (1997). The power of mindful learning. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  12. Langer, E. J. (2005). On becoming an artist: Reinventing yourself through mindful creativity. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  13. Langer, E. J., Bashner, R., & Chanowitz, B. (1985). Decreasing prejudice by increasing discrimination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 113–120.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Langer, E. J., & Imber, L. (1980). The role of mindlessness in the perception of deviance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 360–367.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. McKay, S., & Pitman, J. (1993). Determinants of Anglo-Australian stereotypes of the Vietnamese in Australia. Australian Journal of Psychology, 45, 17–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Meshel, D. S., & McGlynn, R. P. (2004). Intergenerational contact, attitudes, and stereotypes of adolescents and older people. Educational Gerontology, 30, 457–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Perdue, C. W., & Gurtman, M. B. (1990). Evidence for the automaticity of ageism. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 26, 199–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Pettigrew, T. F. (1975). The racial integration of the schools. In T. F. Pettigrew (Ed.), Racial discrimination in the United States (pp. 224–239). New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  19. Pettigrew, T. F. (1998). Intergroup contact theory. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 65–85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pratto, F., & Bargh, J. A. (1991). Stereotyping based on apparently individuating information: Trait and global components of sex stereotypes under attention overload. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 27, 26–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sparrow, B., & Wegner, D. M. (2006). Unpriming: The deactivation of thoughts through expression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(6), 1009–1019.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Stangor, C. (Ed.). (2000). Stereotypes and prejudice: Essential readings (pp. 1–48). Ann Arbor, MI: Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  23. Thornton, J. E. (2002). Myths of aging or ageist stereotypes. Educational Gerontology, 28, 301–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maja Djikic
    • 1
  • Ellen J. Langer
    • 2
  • Sarah Fulton Stapleton
    • 2
  1. 1.Desautels Center for Integrative ThinkingUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations