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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Richard Crisp

Goclowska, Malgorzata A. & Crisp, Richard J. (2013). On counter-stereotypes and creative cognition: When interventions for reducing prejudice can boost divergent thinking. Thinking Skills and Creativity 8: 72-79.

Author(s) from Durham


School-based psychological interventions which require students and pupils to think of counter-stereotypic individuals (e.g., a female mechanic, a Black President) have been shown to reduce stereotyping and prejudice. But while these interventions are increasingly popular, no one has tested whether tasks like this can have benefits beyond promoting tolerance, particularly with respect to the way individuals think and solve problems. We looked at one such intervention and asked whether this task could, in addition to decreasing propensities to stereotype others, contribute to more flexible and original performance. We expected that because exposure to people who disconfirm stereotypes compels students to think “out of the box”, they will subsequently not only rely less on stereotypes, but in more general thinking rely less on easily accessible knowledge structures and be more flexible and creative. As predicted, being encouraged to think counter-stereotypically not only decreased stereotyping, but also, on a divergent creativity task, lead to the generation of more creative ideas – but only for individuals who initially reported a lower personal need for structure (PNS).