Dunning, D., & Sherman, D. A. (in press). Stereotypes and tacit inference. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

To judge another person's behavior, one often has to come to an understanding of what that behavior was in its detail. Five studies demonstrated that stereotypes influence the tacit inferences people make about the unspecified details and ambiguities of social behavior (e.g., what the behavior specifically was, what stimulus the individual reacted to, what caused the individual to act), and that these inferences occur when people encode the relevant information. One study found that participants scoring low on a measure of modern sexism were just as likely to make tacit inferences based on gender stereotypes as were those who scored high. Discussion centers on the implications of these findings for identification processes in social judgment, as well as whether stereotypes influence tacit inferences at an implicit level.