Responses to powerlessness: Stereotyping as an instrument of social conflict

K. J. Reynolds, P. J. Oakes, S. A. Haslam, M. A. Nolan, L. Dolnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


In the context of recent arguments that stereotyping plays an important role in the subjugation of powerless groups, this article explores the possibility that stereotyping may also contribute to social change processes engaged in by the disadvantaged. In a partial replication of an experiment by S. C. Wright, D. M. Taylor, and F.M. Moghaddam (1990), participants (N = 44) were placed in powerless, low-status groups and denied entry to an attractive high-status group. The intergroup boundary was open, slightly permeable, or completely impermeable. Participants could respond to this disadvantage in 1 of 3 ways: acceptance, individual protest, or collective protest. As predicted, open boundaries produced acceptance and reproduction of stereotypes consistent with the established status relationship, whereas closed boundaries encouraged collective protest and stereotypes that challenged the powerful group's position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-290
Number of pages16
JournalGroup Dynamics: theory, research, and practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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