Stereotyping, self-awareness, and the cerebral hemispheres
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Numerous theories about antecedents and explanations of stereotype use have been posited. The present experiment hypothesized that theories of stereotyping could be informed by considering the properties of the cerebral hemispheres. The left hemisphere uses tightly organized schemas to process information and has ascendancy in routine, predictable situations. The right hemisphere attends to novel stimuli and becomes dominant when perceived discrepancies arise. Objective self-awareness was hypothesized to lead to relative right hemisphere activation when people are given the opportunity to stereotype minority group members, because it may cause a discrepancy between their behavior and socially prescribed standards of appropriateness. Self-awareness was also predicted to decrease stereotyping by causing right hemisphere activation. Relative hemisphere activation was assessed with line bisection task. Participants engaged in an open-ended impression formation task of minority group members either in the presence or absence of a mirror. Most of the results failed to support predictions.