Can counter-stereotypes boost flexible thinking?

Małgorzata A. Gocłowska, Richard J. Crisp, Kirsty Labuschagne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (SciVal)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-231
Number of pages15
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • creativity
  • flexibility
  • mindsets
  • prejudice
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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