The Study of Lay Theories: A Piece of the Puzzle for Understanding Prejudice

Luisa Fernanda Ramirez Rueda, Sheri Levy, Lisa Rosenthal, Dina Karafantis

Research output: Chapter in Book/ReportChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Lay” theories are the theories that people use in their everyday life. They not only serve people's epistemic needs to understand and make predictions about their social world but also serve their social needs to form and maintain relationships as well as psychological needs to feel in control and good about themselves.This chapter examines how lay theories foster prejudice or tolerance toward social groups. It highlights some relevant findings on a prominent lay theory, the Protestant work ethic (PWE), which appears to have at least two intergroup implications: one for prejudice and one for tolerance. The tolerant implication of PWE seems to exist across age, cultural, and social status groups; whereas the intolerant implication seems to be culturally bound with children in those cultures first learning the tolerant implication and later learning the intolerant implication.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNavigating the Social World
Subtitle of host publicationWhat Infants, Children, and Other Species Can Teach Us (Social Cognition and Social Neuroscience)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages200
ISBN (Electronic)9780199890712
StatePublished - 2013


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