How Stereotypes Become Shared Knowledge: An Integrative Review on the Role of Biased Language Use in Communication about Categorized Individuals.

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Camiel J. Beukeboom
Christian Burgers


Language use plays a crucial role in the consensualization of stereotypes within cultural groups. Based on integrative review of the literature on stereotyping and biased language use, we propose the Social Categories and Stereotypes Communication (SCSC) framework. The framework integrates largely independent areas of literature, and explicates the linguistic processes through which social-category stereotypes are shared and maintained. We distinguish two groups of biases in language use that jointly feed and maintain three fundamental cognitive variables in (shared) social-category cognition: perceived category entitativity, stereotype content, and perceived essentialism of associated stereotypic characteristics. These are: (1) Biases in linguistic labels used to denote categories, within which we discuss biases in (a) label content and (b) linguistic form of labels; (2) Biases in describing behaviors and characteristics of categorized individuals, within which we discuss biases in (a) communication content (i.e., what information is communicated), and (b) linguistic form of descriptions (i.e., how is information formulated). Together, these biases create a self-perpetuating cycle in which social-category stereotypes are shared and maintained. The framework allows for a better understanding of stereotype maintaining biases in natural language. We discuss various opportunities for further research.

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