The Effects of Thunder, Stereotyping, and Cognitive Load on Impression Formation

  • Devon Struthers Westminster College
  • Jamie McMinn Westminster College
Keywords: Stolen Thunder, Stereotypes, Cognitive Load, Violence, Need for Cognition


The current study examined the effect of stereotypes and stolen thunder on impressions of a person who committed a crime. One hundred twenty undergraduate students from a small private college in rural western Pennsylvania participated in an impression formation task. Participants were given either a 2 digit or a 16 digit number to memorize, followed by a short vignette featuring an African American man whose traits were either consistent or inconsistent with current stereotypes. It was either revealed by the narrator (thunder) or the man (stolen thunder) that he had been convicted of assault. Participants also completed the Need for Cognition scale. A two-way interaction between stereotype consistency and thunder condition emerged. Mainly, when the man was stereotype inconsistent, participants found him to be less guilty than when he was stereotype consistent if he did not reveal the information himself. Future research should focus on the interaction between stolen thunder and stereotype information.

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Author Biography

Jamie McMinn, Westminster College
Faculty Advisor

How to Cite
Struthers, D., & McMinn, J. (2012). The Effects of Thunder, Stereotyping, and Cognitive Load on Impression Formation. Journal of Student Research, 1(2), 67-74. Retrieved from
Research Articles