Associate Chair of Research and Graduate Studies
Director, Social Program
Ph.D., 1989, University of Michigan
Research Areas: Social Psychology
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- Social Psychology Program
I study stereotyping and prejudice, and more specifically, I focus on how stereotypes affect judgments of and behavior displayed toward individual members of stereotyped groups (including the self). My research on the "shifting standards model" suggests that by virtue of holding a stereotype, we use category-specific standards against which we judge members of stereotyped groups. The result is that, for example, an individual woman might be judged as more aggressive than a comparable man-a contrast effect-because she is judged relative to a lower (female) standard. My research has also suggested that perceivers set lower minimum standards but higher confirmatory standards (e.g., stringent evidentiary criteria to document ability in a domain) for members of devalued groups (women, Blacks), and that zero-sum behaviors(distribution of valued resources) tend to favor the positively stereotyped, whereas nonzero-sum behaviors favor the negatively stereotyped (e.g., the "terrific" female softball player may receive more pats on the back than a comparable male player, but nonetheless still find herself benched more often than the male). The overall theme of this research is that stereotypes guide judgments of others in subtle, complex, and sometimes contradictory ways.
Biernat, M. (2005). Standards and expectancies: Contrast and assimilation in judgments. New York: Psychology Press/Taylor and Francis.
Biernat, M. (2003). Toward a broader view of social stereotyping. American Psychologist, 58, 1019-1027.
Biernat, M., Crosby, F. J., & Williams, J. C. (Eds.) (2004). The maternal wall: Research and policy perspectives on discrimination against mothers in the workplace. Journal of Social Issues, 60.
Biernat, M., & Eidelman, S. (2007). Standards. In A. W. Kruglanski and E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles, Volume 2 (pp. 308-333). New York: The Guilford Press.
Biernat, M., & Ma, J. E. (2005). Stereotypes and the confirmability of trait concepts. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 483-495.
Eidelman, S., & Biernat, M. (2007). Getting the most of success: Standard-raising as esteem maintenance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 759-774.