Essentialism is a philosophical position on the nature of categories. An essentialist view holds that members of a category all share an inner essence that makes them what they are. Whether or not philosophers agree, people often believe that categories have essences, a belief known as psychological essentialism. Some of the categories that may be seen to have essences are social categories or groups. Social psychologists have recently taken an interest in essentialist thinking about groups because it seems to play an important role in stereotyping and prejudice. There is growing evidence that people who perceive groups in essentialist ways are more likely than others to hold negative attitudes toward group members and are more likely to make rapid stereotypical judgments about people on the ...

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