Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 589–607 | Cite as

Stereotype activation versus application: how teachers process and judge information about students from ethnic minorities and with low socioeconomic background

  • Sabine Glock
  • Sabine Krolak-Schwerdt


Teachers develop stereotypical expectations about students, but this categorical knowledge can influence their judgments about students. Although teachers’ stereotypical expectations about students have been investigated in the educational domain, this research has mostly measured only the teachers’ judgments. However, the judgment is only the outcome of preceding information processing, which consists of different stages that might be influenced by social categories. Drawing on dual process theories of impression and judgment formation, we investigated teachers’ information processing and judgment processes. In Study 1, we compared the processing of neutral information and information about a racial minority student. In Study 2, we investigated how teachers derive judgments of students from families with high versus low socioeconomic backgrounds. Both studies revealed that perception and memory were affected by social categories but showed no impact of categorical information on teachers’ judgments. Thus, the results indicated stereotype activation but not application, as teachers seemed to suppress their stereotypical expectations when it comes to the judgment. The implications of the results for future research as well as for teacher training are discussed.


Achievement judgments Racial minorities SES Stereotypes 


Conflict of interest

The authors have no competing interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationBergische Universität WuppertalWuppertalGermany
  2. 2.University of LuxembourgLuxembourg CityLuxembourg

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