Article ID: CBB001211212

“The Casual Cruelty of Our Prejudices”: On Walter Lippmann's Theory of Stereotype and Its “Obliteration” in Psychology and Social Science (2012)


Reflecting on his wartime government service, Walter Lippmann (1922) developed a theory of policy formulation and error. Introducing the constructs of stereotype, mental model, blind spots, and the process of manufacturing consent, his theory prescribed interdisciplinary social science as a tool for enhancing policy making in business and government. Lippmann used his influence with the Rockefeller foundations, business leaders, Harvard and the University of Chicago to gain support for this program. Citation analysis of references to 'stereotype' and Lippmann reveals the rapid spread of the concept across the social sciences and in public discourse paralleled by obliteration by incorporation of the wider theory in behavioral science. 'Stereotype' is increasingly invoked in anthropology, economics, and sociology though Lippmann and his wider theory ceased being cited decades ago. In psychology, citations are increasing but content analysis revealed blind spots and misconceptions about the theory and prescription. Studies of heuristics, biases, and organizational decision substantiate Lippmann's theory of judgment and choice. But his model for social science failed to consider the bounded rationality and blind spots of its practitioners. Policy formulation today is supported by research from narrow disciplinary silos not interdisciplinary science that reflects an awareness of history. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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Authors & Contributors
Marcus, Alan I.
Collis Greene, Alison
Brain, Stephen C.
Evans, Sterling
Smith, Neil
Lemov, Rebecca M.
History of Psychology
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
History of the Human Sciences
Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
History of Education Quarterly
University of California Press
Hill & Wang
Harvard University Press
Harvard University
Mississippi State University
Science and politics
Science and government
Behavioral sciences
Social psychology
Science and war; science and the military
Weeks, Arland Deyett
Bowman, Isaiah
Roosevelt, Theodore
Lippmann, Walter
Milgram, Stanley
Piaget, Jean
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century, late
20th century
21st century
19th century
United States
Minnesota (U.S.)
Gulf of Mexico
United States. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

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