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Accuracy of national stereotypes depends on the approach taken to measuring them

Press release: "How accurate are national stereotypes? A test of different methodological approaches"

A recent study by Dr. Martina Hřebíčková and colleagues examined the extent to which the methodology used in different studies can explain differences found in the accuracy of national stereotypes – the agreement in ratings of personality between a country’s stereotype and the average scores of participants from that country. Previous research has shown inconsistent results, with national stereotypes being fairly accurate in some studies, but not in others. Hřebíčková and colleagues identified several methodological issues that contribute to these discrepancies, and put forward a novel approach for estimating stereotype accuracy. The study was published in the March/April issue of the European Journal of Personality.

Previous research has often reported inconsistent results on the accuracy of national stereotypes. In some studies, national stereotypes were accurate, in others moderately accurate, and in the majority of the studies national stereotypes were inaccurate. Dr. Hřebíčková and colleagues found that the use of different methodological approaches in the past has greatly influenced the level of accuracy found – and might explain the inconsistencies in results. Specifically, they propose that the manner in which personality ratings are obtained, the way the data are analysed, and the personality test scores that researchers use as a reference may have resulted in mixed findings. They proposed an alternative and novel approach, that uses rankings of the studied countries and sophisticated statistical analyses to overcome the methodological shortcomings of previous studies, and applied it to data from ten European countries. The results suggest that national stereotypes are generally accurate, but that differences between countries are overestimated. This may have important implications for the way people perceive cultural differences.

Correspondence about this study can be addressed to Dr. Martina Hřebíčková, Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Veveří 97, 602 00 Brno, Czech. Dr. Hřebíčková can be contacted via email on The article on the accuracy of national stereotypes can be accessed here.

EJP also had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Martina Hřebíčková to learn more about her about the current study. The interview can be found here.

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