Alan J. Lambert

Assistant Professor

(314) 935-7176
Office: 319B Psychology Building
Lab: 311/313 Psychology Building

Personal Information

Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1993)

Research Interests:

Much of my current research stems from a concern with the situational and internal factors that determine how people use--or avoid using--their stereotypes as a basis for judgment. This work, which I am currently investigating along with several graduate students at Washington University (Alison Chasteen, Stephanie Cronen, Saera Khan, and Jeremy Manier) focuses on a number of factors that play a role in this regard, including (a) the nature of the situational context in which the stereotype is activated, (b) the perceiver's mood, (c) individual differences in political ideology, and (d) perceived group variability.

This work has been useful in gaining insight into the reasons why people might use their stereotypes in different ways. For example, we (Lambert, Cronen, Chasteen, & Lickel, 1996) found that people are actually more likely to rely on their stereotypes if they are judging individual group members in anticipated public, rather than private, contexts. Although counterintuitive, such effects suggest that people are often motivated to defend or "bolster" their racial attitudes, especially when they anticipate that they may have to defend these views to others. In a different domain, we have also found that experimental induction of sad moods leads people to "correct" for their stereotypes, but only when they are perceived to be an inappropriate basis for judgment (Lambert, Khan, Lickel, & Fricke, in press). This shows that "motivation to correct" is not a sufficient condition for stereotype suppression to occur, but that such suppression depends on people's subjective impressions of the stereotype and whether they feel they are justified in using it or not.

Finally, the "structural" organization of stereotypes plays an important role in category-to-individual inferences. When the group is perceived as homogeneous, typicality plays a gatekeeper role, leading to assimilation for typical exemplars but no effect (or contrast) for atypical exemplars. When the group is heterogeneous, however, people often find typicality to be less important of an attribute. As a result, people often apply their stereotypes to individual group members, regardless of whether the target is typical or atypical (Lambert, 1995; Lambert & Wyer, 1990).

Selected Publications

  • Lambert, A. J., Khan, S., Lickel, B., & Fricke, K. (in press) Mood and the correction of positive vs. negative stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

  • Lambert, A. J., & Chasteen, A. L. (in press). Perceptions of disadvantage vs. conventionality: Political values and attitudes toward the elderly vs. Blacks. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

  • Lambert, A. J. & Chasteen, A. L. (in press). Social Cognition. Chapter to appear in W. Bechtel and B. Graham (Eds.), A Companion to Cognitive Science. Blackwell: Oxford.

  • Lambert, A. J., Burroughs, T., & Chasteen, A. L. (in press). Belief in a just world and right wing authoritarianism as dual moderators of perceived risk. Chapter to appear in L Montada and M. Lerner (Eds.), Belief in a Just World: Advances in Theory and Method.

  • Lambert, A. J., Cronen, S., Chasteen, A. L., & Lickel, B. (1996). Private vs. public expressions of racial prejudice. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 32, 437-459.

  • Lambert, A. J. (1995) Stereotypes and social judgment: The consequences of group variability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 388-403.

  • Wyer, R. S., & Lambert, A. J. (1994). The role of trait constructs in person perception: A historical perspective. P. Devine, T. Ostrom, & D. Hamilton (Eds.) Social Cognition: Impact on Social Psychology. San Diego: Academic Press.

  • Lambert, A. J., & Wedell, D. H. (1991). The self and social judgment: Effects of affective reaction and "own position" on judgments of unambiguous and ambiguous information about others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 884,-898.

  • Lambert, A. J., & Wyer, R. S. (1990). Stereotypes and social judgment: The effects of typicality and group heterogeneity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 676-691.

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    -last revised 30 October 96