Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Donna Nickitas

Committee Members

Keville Frederickson

Barbara Montero

Michael Chattalas

Diana Mason

Subject Categories

Cognition and Perception | Gender and Sexuality | Medicine and Health | Nursing Administration | Social Psychology | Social Psychology and Interaction | Work, Economy and Organizations


nurse, stereotypes, warmth, competence, stereotype content model, female nurse, male nurse


A nursing shortage looms ahead; 1.03 million new nurses will be needed by 2022 to meet society's healthcare needs. A major barrier to recruitment of women and men are nurse stereotypes. The literature suggests four female and four male stereotypes exist; however, no quantitative research exists that explores perceptions of non-nursing undergraduate students. Approximately, 90% of college students do not consider nursing as a career option, and 72% have misconceptions of what nurses do in reality.

According to social cognitive theory's Stereotype Content Model (SCM), perceptions are viewed through a combination of two dimensions: warmth and competence. The author devised a survey instrument that contained eight separate nurse stereotype images, four female and four male, with face and content validity testing passing threshold with mean CVI-Index score >0.80, . The study sample was comprised of 318 undergraduate non-nursing students who completed the instrument. The participants, 63% between the ages of 18 to 29, rated nurses in general (no imagery provided) highly competent (mean 5.82) and highly warm (5.28). Each of the eight nurse stereotypes scored lower in both dimensions than nurses in general. Three of the eight stereotypes rated highly warm and highly competent, the highest was the angel (warmth mean score = 5.60, competence mean score = 5.13), followed by hypermasculinized womanizer and handmaiden. The battleaxe was ascribed high competence and low warmth. The remaining four stereotypes, effete homosexual, not smart enough for medical school, whore, and miscreant, were perceived as low warmth and low competence.

The results of this study suggested nurse stereotypes remain entrenched in societal perception. Despite more than four decades of editorial efforts to counter the angel’s imagery, the iconic nurse stereotype angel remains a persistent image of nurses even in a young demographic. Nevertheless, research in consumer behavior suggests that stereotypical perceptions can be re-positioned by deliberate marketing efforts. Therefore, a strategic recommendation from the results of the study is to use the angel nurse stereotype, capitalizing on the high perceived warmth (trust) and high perceived competence (ability and skill). Promotional efforts fostering a positive and contemporary nurse image using marketing tactics that highlight the angel nurse stereotype, ideally one of each genders, e.g. Angela and Angelo. A fresh lens is needed for a successful approach that can overcome the negative and inaccurate nurse stereotypes that were perceived as low warmth and low competence in this study. Conversely, the angel nurse stereotype restyled and given a makeover and placed in a campaign that emphasizes first warmth and then competence, both traits requisite for nursing, may be that new image needed for nursing in the 21st century.