Schrodinger's immigrant: the political and strategic use of (contradictory) stereotypical traits about immigrants

Denis Sindic*, Rita Morais, Rui Costa-Lopes, Olivier Klein, Manuela Barreto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In two experimental studies, we explored the politicized use of immigrant stereotypes by members of the Portuguese host society. Our goal was to demonstrate that stereotypes strategically vary to support political arguments and mobilize others towards one's political position. In Study 1, the way in which participants described immigrants varied as a function of (a) whether or not they were provided with the opportunity to mobilize an ingroup audience, (b) the direction in which they sought to mobilize that audience, and (c) the instrumentality of particular stereotypical traits in a given argumentative context. Study 2 examined the cognitive processes underlying the strategic expression of stereotypes, by measuring implicit stereotyping and manipulating participants’ ability to do cognitive work prior to and during stereotype expression. The findings showed that (a) variability in stereotype expression was matched by a consonant variability in implicit representations of immigrants, and that (b) the ability to do cognitive work was a necessary condition for variability in stereotype expression to emerge. Taken together, these findings suggest that strategic effects in stereotype expression are underpinned by strategic work on intra-psychic representations. We conclude by discussing the complementarity between strategic and cognitive explanations of stereotype expression, as well as by arguing the possibility of a more predictive approach to the politicized use of stereotypes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-238
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Schrodinger's immigrant: the political and strategic use of (contradictory) stereotypical traits about immigrants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this