Symbols of pride or prejudice? Examining the impact of Native American sports mascots on stereotype application

J Soc Psychol. 2017;157(2):223-235. doi: 10.1080/00224545.2016.1208142. Epub 2016 Jul 6.


For over 50 years, a debate has existed over the use of Native American sports mascots; however, few empirical studies on the topic exist. The present study examined if supraliminal exposure to Native American mascots results in the application of negative stereotypes toward Native American people. Results indicated that the effect of Native American mascots was moderated by people's racial attitudes toward Native people. When exposed to Native mascots, people with a prejudiced attitude rated a Native American individual more stereotypically aggressive than those with a non-prejudiced attitude. However, this pattern did not occur when people were exposed to White mascots or neutral images. Furthermore, this pattern was not evident when people evaluated a non-Native individual. This overall pattern of results indicates that Native American mascots selectively facilitate the application of negative stereotypes, resulting in harmful evaluations of Native American people.

Keywords: Mascots; Native Americans; prejudice; racism; stereotypes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Male
  • Racism / ethnology*
  • Sports*
  • Stereotyping*
  • United States / ethnology
  • Young Adult