The Impact of Stereotypical Versus Counterstereotypical Media Exemplars on Racial Attitudes, Causal Attributions, and Support for Affirmative Action Academic Article uri icon


  • This study examines how exposure to media characters of color shapes viewers' opinions of race-targeted policies. Exemplar-based information processing, attribution theory, and heuristic policy decision-making formed the theoretical foundation for the study. A 2 × 2 factorial experiment (N = 363) exposed participants to stereotypical or counterstereotypical exemplars representing the in-group (Whites) and the out-group (Blacks). The experiment revealed that exposure to stereotypical African American media characters compared to exposure to counter-stereotypical ones influenced real-world beliefs of African American stereotypes, internal attributions for perceived failures of this out-group, prejudicial feelings toward this out-group, and lack of support for pro-minority affirmative action policies. A structural model established "internal attributions for out-group failures" as a crucial mediator. Implications for entertainment studies and political communication are discussed. © The Author(s) 2011.

altmetric score

  • 6.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Ramasubramanian, S.

citation count

  • 76

publication date

  • January 2011