Group Processes & Intergroup Relations vol:14 issue:4 pages:559-567
Essentialist thinking has been implicated in producing segregation between social groups even in the absence of negative attitudes. This mode of category representation brings social group information to the fore in social information processing, suggesting that the social consequences of essentialism are associated with basic categorization processes. Drawing on recent work demonstrating that automatic approach and avoidance behaviors are directly embedded in intergroup categorization, we show that people who hold essentialist beliefs about human attributes are faster to approach their ingroup. Moreover this relationship is not accounted for by explicit prejudice towards the outgroup and essentialist beliefs were unrelated to implicit evaluation of either group. The findings demonstrate that essentialist beliefs are associated with immediate behavioral responses attached to social category exemplars, highlighting the links between these beliefs and basic categorization processes.