Publication Date

April 2015


Clara Wilkins




English (United States)


This research examined the effect of Jewish individuals' phenotypic prototypicality on their self-reported Jewish identification, as well as others' perceptions of their personality and identification. Phenotypic prototypicality (PP) is the extent to which individuals possess physical characteristics typical of their racial or ethnic group. Individuals who are high in PP are more likely to be viewed according to stereotypes associated with their group and to be perceived as identifying more strongly with their group (Blair, Judd, Sadler, & Jenkins, 2002; Wilkins, Kaiser, & Rieck, 2010). I examined whether these findings held true for Jewish individuals. I explored the relationships between Jewish PP, Jewish identification, perceived stereotypicality, and perceived identification. Study 1 examined features perceived as being characteristic of high PP Jewish men and women, and determined the most common personality stereotypes of Jewish men and women. These personality stereotypes were used as the stimuli for Study 2. In Study 2, 30 Jewish Wesleyan students rated their own phenotypic prototypicality and their Jewish identification. Independent raters then rated the Jewish targets' photos on PP, identification, and stereotypicality. For female Jews, there was a negative relationship between self-perceived PP and degree of self-reported Jewish identification. In addition, others perceived both male and female Jews as being more strongly identified as Jewish if they were higher in PP. Finally, male Jews were perceived as being more stereotypical in personality when they were higher in PP and perceived as identifying more strongly as Jewish. I discuss implications for anti-Semitic prejudice.

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