An Exploration of the Content of Stereotypes of Black Politicians

Publication Date


Document Type





Do voters have the same stereotypes of Black politicians that they have of Black people in general? We argue that common stereotypes of Blacks (e.g., lazy, violent) may not apply to perceptions of Black politicians. Instead, we hypothesize that Black politicians are a unique subtype of the larger group Blacks, different enough to warrant their own stereotypes. We take an inductive approach to understanding the stereotypes of Black politicians. Employing a classic psychology research design (Katz & Braly, 1933) in which respondents list traits for a target group, we find that there is little overlap of stereotype content between Black politicians and Blacks. Our results therefore indicate that Black politicians constitute a separate and unique subtype of Blacks. Our analysis explores similarities and differences between stereotypes of Black politicians and two other groups: Black professionals (another subtype of Blacks) and politicians. We discuss the implications of our findings for the relationship between stereotypes and voter decisions. © 2011 International Society of Political Psychology.


Black Politicians, Blacks, Stereotype Content, Stereotypes, Subtyping

Published Version