Reducing Stereotyping Through Mindfulness: Effects on Automatic Stereotype-Activated Behaviors

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We assessed whether mindfulness (active categorization) can prevent automatic stereotype-activated behaviors related to the elderly. Eighty participants (mean age = 24.4) were given a set of photographs to prime the dimension Old Age and were asked to categorize them multiple times, to see whether the effect of the prime could be reduced through increased mindfulness. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions, where they were asked to categorize the photographs across (1) four self-generated categories; (2) four assigned categories; (3) a single category—Gender; or (4) a single category—Age. Participants' walking speed (cf. Bargh et al. 1996, Experiment 2) was then measured, as they moved between the two experimental stations. The results show that greater mindfulness predicted greater walking speed, indicating a decrease in the effect of the automatic stereotype-activated behavior.

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