Motions of the hand expose the partial and parallel activation of stereotypes: Research report

Jonathan B. Freeman, Nalini Ambady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Perceivers spontaneously sort other people's faces into social categories and activate the stereotype knowledge associated with those categories. In the work described here, participants, presented with sex-typical and sex-atypical faces (i.e., faces containing a mixture of male and female features), identified which of two gender stereotypes (one masculine and one feminine) was appropriate for the face. Meanwhile, their hand movements were measured by recording the streaming x, y coordinates of the computer mouse. As participants stereotyped sex-atypical faces, real-time motor responses exhibited a continuous spatial attraction toward the opposite-gender stereotype. These data provide evidence for the partial and parallel activation of stereotypes belonging to alternate social categories. Thus, perceptual cues of the face can trigger a graded mixture of simultaneously active stereotype knowledge tied to alternate social categories, and this mixture settles over time onto ultimate judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1183-1188
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 6 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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