This article reviews theory and research on double standards, namely, the use of different requirements for the inference of possession of an attribute, depending on the individuals being assessed. The article focuses on double standards for competence in task groups and begins by examining how status characteristics (e.g. gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic class) become a basis for stricter standards for the lower status person. I also discuss other bases for this practice (e.g. personality characteristics, allocated rewards, sentiments of either like or dislike). Next, I describe double standards in the inference of other types of valued attributes (e.g. beauty, morality, mental health) and examine the relationship between these practices and competence double standards. The article concludes with a discussion of “reverse” double standards for competence, namely, the practice of applying more lenient ability standards to lower status individuals.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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