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Identifying and predicting stereotype change in large language corpora: 72 groups, 115 years (1900-2015), and four text sources.

The social world is carved into a complex variety of groups each associated with unique stereotypes that persist and shift over time. Innovations in natural language processing (word embeddings) enabled this comprehensive study on variability and correlates of change/stability in both manifest and latent stereotypes for 72 diverse groups tracked across 115 years of four English-language text corpora. Results showed, first, that group stereotypes changed by a moderate-to-large degree in manifest content (i.e., top traits associated with groups) but remained relatively more stable in latent structure (i.e., average cosine similarity of top traits' embeddings and vectors of valence, warmth, or competence). This dissociation suggests new insights into how stereotypes and their consequences may endure despite documented changes in other aspects of group representations. Second, results showed substantial variability of change/stability across the 72 groups, with some groups revealing large shifts in manifest and latent content, but others showing near-stability. Third, groups also varied in how consistently they were stereotyped across texts, with some groups showing divergent content, but others showing near-identical representations. Fourth, this variability in change/stability across groups was predicted from a combination of linguistic (e.g., frequency of mentioning the group; consistency of group stereotypes across texts) and social (e.g., the type of group) correlates. Groups that were more frequently mentioned in text changed more than those rarely mentioned; sociodemographic groups changed more than other group types (e.g., body-related stigmas, mental illnesses, occupations), providing the first quantitative evidence of specific group features that may support historical stereotype change. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

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