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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
EIDENSHINK, P. J. (2006). Measuring Stereotype Differences in College Students. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 9. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 28, 2023 .

Measuring Stereotype Differences in College Students

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
In this study college students from Missouri Western State University participated in a survey on stereotypes. The students ranked a volunteer on their first thoughts of her appearance. The purpose of the study was to see if attending college would have an effect on studentís stereotypes. Upper and lower level psychology courses were compared. The results showed that it did not matter. The stereotypes were similar between both.

Measuring Stereotype Differences in College Students Stereotypes are present in everyday life if we realize it or not. You always judge the person that passes you in the hall or on the street. We judge them first by their race and weight then by the clothes they are wearing. We do this a lot in victim blaming. We judge a victim by their appearance and then decide if it was their fault for their situation. Victim blaming has shown to be related with how conservative a person is. The more conservative a person is the more likely they will blame the victim for responsibility of their situation. In a study by Adams-Price, Dalton, and Sumrall (2004) they found that younger groups of people tend to be more liberal and blame the victim less often. Also older adults typically the elderly were more conservative and blamed the victim more often. People who have not been victims themselves will also blame the victim more often. The severity of blaming the victim is based on one of two reasons: because observers believe life is fair and bad things happen to people that deserve them or because people make defensive attributions that bad things will not happen to them if they behave honorably (Adams-Price, Dalton, and Sumrall, 2004). There are many factors that affect our stereotypic attitudes. As stated already political standings relates to how you will judge an individual. Also a personís historical, cultural and religious background affects their attitudes. A personís history with a certain race can affect how they will judge that person. If they have had bad experiences they will have negative attitudes toward them. It is the same for culture background in addition that if a certain culture has specific attitudes towards a certain race then the whole group has those attitudes also even if they have not had any encounters with that race. A study by Zaidi (1964) showed that there are shared attitudes nation wide. He had many different regions of the world fill out a questionnaire about opinions of different cultures like American, British, Muslim, and Chinese to name a few. He found that there were similar opinions across all nations of the world (Zaidi, 1964). A more recent study stated that the shared perception of personality characteristics typical to a certain culture is called national character. Also that national stereotype is more narrow in that excludes abilities, physical characteristics, and other features that are associated with a particular culture. They found that stereotypes of ones culture are similar to the way that culture sees them. For example the French view of Germans is similar to Germansí view of themselves. They also found that different age groups had similar stereotypes towards each culture (McCrae & Terracciano, 2006). There has been lots of research done on stereotype activation and stereotypic behavior. Meaning that if a stereotype were activated for example elderly then the stereotypic behavior would be to move more slowly. This also works vice versa. If you are moving slow you then think of yourself as behaving like an elderly person. This happens because of shared representational systems for perception and action. In this study they activated the elderly and overweight stereotypes in college students. They first had to fill out a survey about stereotypes. Next they had to perform simple tasks with weights on their hands and ankles or walk to a slower pace. Then they had to fill out a survey about the experience. They found that when a stereotype is activated the more likely they stereotype (Mussweiler 2006). The purpose of my study is to correlate higher education with stereotypes. I want to find out if attending college will affect our stereotypes. I feel with the classes I have attended that I do not stereotype as much as I used to. I surveyed freshman and senior college students attending Missouri Western State University. Stereotype activation was also used in my study.


The participants in this study were students in two psychology 101 courses and students in two upper level psychology courses. They were students at Missouri Western State University.

The main material for this study was a survey that asked the participants to rank the volunteer on six dimensions (Appendix 1). The survey was put together by the researcher. Another material used was a volunteer to dress sloppy (mismatched, sweatpants, and t-shirt) and to dress formal (dress or suit).

Each participant received the survey. One psychology 101 course observed the volunteer dressed sloppy and another 101 course observed the volunteer dressed formally. One upper level psychology course observed the volunteer dressed sloppy and another upper level course observed the volunteer dressed formally. The participants then filled out the survey according to their opinions of their observations.

A 2 (dress) x 2 (class) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the upper level students and the lower level students on how they ranked the volunteer. A significant main effect for underclassmen on quiet was found (F(1,71) = 5.94, p< .017). When the volunteer was dressed down underclassmen ranked (m = 2.4, sd = .97) and the upperclassmen ranked (m = 2.2, sd = 1.10). When the volunteer was dressed nice the underclassmen ranked (m = 3.1, sd = 1.0) and the upperclassmen ranked (m = 2.1, sd = .90). The main effect for dress was not significant (F(1,71) =1.83, p>.05). The interaction effect was also not significant (F(1,71) =2.56, p<.05). A 2 (dress) x 2 (class) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the upper level students and the lower level students on how they ranked the volunteer. There was not a significant main effect for how they ranked politeness (F(1,71) = 1.15, p> .05). There was no significant main effect found for dress (F(1,71) = .857, p>.05). There was a close but not significant interaction (F(1,71) = 3.29, p>.074). This indicates that there were no main effects for the two and there was a little bit of interaction but not enough to be significant. A 2 (dress) x 2 (class) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the upper level students and the lower level students on how they ranked the volunteer. There was not a significant main effect for how they ranked the volunteer on how active they thought they were (F(1,71) = 1.2, p> .05). There was no significant main effect found for dress (F,1,71) = 0, p>.05). The interaction was also not significant (F(1,71) = .076, p>.05). The research shows that neither the style of dress nor the division of classes they are in had any effect on how they ranked the individual.

The results for this study showed that attending college had no significant effect on the stereotypes of the students. In my original statement of purpose I believed that stereotypes would be less apparent in upper level college students. In the literature that I researched all found significant results. In the article about stereotype activation also show significant results that when activation is present the participants used more stereotypic answers (Mussweiler 2006). Unlike their study I found negative results with my stereotype activation. The limitations to my study are randomization, noise, and generality. The participants were not that random, they were only college students in psychology classes. There are several other majors on campus that could have shown different results. Also majority of the psychology major students at Missouri Western State University are Caucasian. There was some noise in the research. Some of the participants heard the volunteer talk when helping pass out surveys and could have biased the results. Like with the randomization, generality cannot happen. These are college students and cannot be generalized to the normal society. For future research the study should be replicated with a larger and more diverse population. Instead of using an actual person to rate, use pictures where other noise cannot interfere.

Adams-Price, C.E., Dalton, W.T., & Sumrall, R. (2004). Victim blaming in young, middle-aged, and older adults: Variations on the severity effect. Journal of Adult Development, 11, 289-295.McCrae, R.R., & Terracciano, A. (2006). National character and personality. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 156-161.Mussweiler, T. (2006). Doing is for thinking. Psychological Science, 17, 17-21.Okamoto, T., & Fujihara, T. (2006). Measuring social stereotypes with the photo projective method. Social Behavior and Personality, 34, 319-332.Zaidi, S.M.H., (1964). National stereotypes o university students in karachi. The Journal of Social Psychology, 63, 73-85.


Circle one: Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior

Rate the individual by your first thought. Circle the number that best represents your thoughts.

1. Sociable n/a Unsociable 1 2 3 4 5

2. Active n/a Inactive 1 2 3 4 5

3. Quiet n/a Loud 1 2 3 4 5

4. Intelligent n/a Unintelligent 1 2 3 4 5

5. Flexible n/a Rigid 1 2 3 4 5

6. Polite n/a Impolite 1 2 3 4 5

Submitted 12/7/2006 12:40:22 PM
Last Edited 12/7/2006 1:02:11 PM
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