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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Richard Crisp

Goclowska, Malgorzata A., Crisp, Richard J. & Labuschagne, Kirsty (2013). Can counter-stereotypes boost flexible thinking? Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 16(2): 217-231.

Author(s) from Durham


To reduce prejudice psychologists design interventions requiring people to think of counter-stereotypes (i.e., people who defy stereotypic expectations—a strong woman, a Black President). Grounded in the idea that stereotypes constrain the ability to think flexibly, we propose that thinking of counter-stereotypes can have benefits that extend beyond the goal of prejudice reduction—in particular to tasks measuring cognitive flexibility and creative performance. Findings supported this conjecture. In Experiment 1 priming a gender counter-stereotype enhanced cognitive flexibility. This effect could not be attributed to changes in mood. In Experiment 2, using a gender-independent manipulation, priming various social counter-stereotypes brought a boost to creative performance. We discuss implications of these extended benefits of counter-stereotypic thinking for developing future prejudice-reduction interventions.