A question of honor: Chief Wahoo and American Indian stereotype activation among a university based sample

J Soc Psychol. Sep-Oct 2011;151(5):577-91. doi: 10.1080/00224545.2010.507265.


For over 30 years, a debate has raged regarding the appropriateness of high school, university, and professional sports teams using American Indian mascots. Proponents of such mascots state that these images are traditions and honor Indigenous People. Opponents of these images argue that the symbols foster stereotypes (Pewewardy, 1999) and negatively affect American Indians (Fryberg, Markus, Oyserman, & Stone, 2008). The purpose of this investigation was to examine if exposure to an American Indian mascot activated American Indian stereotypes in a predominately European American sample. In addition, we explored the role of personal motivation, prejudice level, and experience on stereotype activation. We found that the Chief Wahoo image (i.e., Cleveland Indian's logo) compared to other images activated negative, but not positive, American Indian stereotypes. Participants' motivation to control prejudice, prejudice level, and experience did not predict negative stereotype activation. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Baseball / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Indians, North American / psychology*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Prejudice
  • Stereotyping*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Symbolism*
  • Whites / psychology
  • Young Adult