Social Identity versus Reference Frame Comparisons: The Moderating Role of Stereotype Endorsement Academic Article uri icon


  • Two studies tested the prediction that belief in a negative stereotype about an in-group will cause members to shift from viewing their in-group as a social identity to viewing it as a frame of reference. The stereotype that was the focus of inquiry was the belief that women have less aptitude at math and spatial tasks than do men. In both studies, female participants took a test of math and spatial ability and then received social comparison information about their abilities relative to a male and a female confederate. In Study 1, participants felt enhanced when the two women outperformed the male confederate, even when this meant that the participants themselves performed worse than the other woman. If participants were first reminded of the negative stereotype, however, they felt best when they outperformed the other woman, even if this meant that the two women performed worse than the man. Study 2 showed that the effects of stereotype activation were especially pronounced among female participants who showed moderate to high levels of stereotype endorsement. These findings suggest that belief in stereotypes about the in-group can lead to in-group comparison and contrast, even in contexts in which a group member's ability level challenges the validity of the stereotype. 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).

published proceedings

  • Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

author list (cited authors)

  • Blanton, H., Christie, C., & Dye, M.

citation count

  • 50

complete list of authors

  • Blanton, Hart||Christie, Charlene||Dye, Maureen

publication date

  • January 2002