The study explores the content of gender stereotypes and metastereotypes in a convenience sample of 622 South Italian women: young women (N=228, 20-39 years); adult women (N=227, 40-55 years); older women (N=167, 56-87 years). Based on the Stereotype Content Model, and social role theory, changes in the content of stereotypes and metastereotypes in the three age groups were detected. Results indicated that the stereotype was likely to increase in competence, and decrease in warmth, as age increases. The discrepancy between (positive) ste-reotypes and (negative) metastereotypes was interpreted as the result of a social creativity strategy aimed at maintaining self-esteem.
Keywords: Gender stereotypes, metastereotypes, stereotype content model, social role theory, selective self-stereotyping, Southern Italy.