Article | Psychological Science | January 2013

Not Just for Stereotyping Anymore: Racial Essentialism Reduces Domain-General Creativity

by Carmit Tadmor, Melody Chao, Ying-yi Hong and Jeff Polzer

Abstract

Individuals who believe that racial groups have fixed underlying essences use stereotypes more than do individuals who believe that racial categories are arbitrary and malleable social-political constructions. Would this essentialist mind-set also lead to less creativity? We suggest that the functional utility derived from essentialism induces a habitual closed-mindedness that transcends the social domain and hampers creativity. Across studies, using both individual difference measures (in a pilot test) and experimental manipulations (Experiments 1, 2a, and 2b), we found that an essentialist mind-set is indeed hazardous for creativity, with the relationship mediated by motivated closed-mindedness (Experiments 2a and 2b). These results held across samples of majority cultural-group members (Caucasian Americans, Israelis) and minority-group members (Asian Americans), as well as across different measures of creativity (flexibility, association, insight). Our findings have important implications for understanding the connection between racial intolerance and creativity.

Keywords: Prejudice and Bias; Creativity; Race Characteristics;

Citation:

Tadmor, Carmit, Melody Chao, Ying-yi Hong, and Jeff Polzer. "Not Just for Stereotyping Anymore: Racial Essentialism Reduces Domain-General Creativity." Psychological Science 24, no. 1 (January 2013).