January 16, 2013
Positive Portrayals: Can’t win?
Hattie McDaniel, actress from Gone With The Wind, was the first black person to
ever win an Oscar (1939). She was chastised for playing a maid in the film, even
though she was making more money than most white people at the time.
The Cosby Show was heavily criticized because they were showing people a black
family that couldn’t really exist; they were showing a “fake” family, which was
considered to be unfair. Since people never really imagined a black successful
family, that worked hard, people considered all other black families lazy and
unsuccessful, therefore the show was reinforcing negative reactions to black
Role of Personal Experience
Childhood inter-racial contact (Wood & Sonleitner, 1996)
Index of contact associated with adult stereotyping/prejudice
- maybe a lot of contact with other groups in childhood can make you not believe all
the stereotypes (before age 10, when you actually understand all the stereotypes)
Amount of actual contact?
Type of contact?
Biases due to memory
Did you live in a neighbourhood in which blacks lived?
Did you attend a school that blacks attended?
Did you belong to any clubs, churches, etc., that blacks also attended?
- asking these questions did not necessarily mean that they interacted with them
- the more contact they had, the less likely they were to endorse stereotypes and
- being in contact with other races at a young age therefore helps you accept people
for who they are
Aronson’s jigsaw classroom
- non-random assignment of children into groups to include people of all races,
religions and both genders
- the children are put into a group to work on a project where their success depends
on each other because they have to learn from one another
Positive interdependence—members of a group who share common goals
perceive that working together is individually and collectively beneficial, and
success depends on the participation of all of the members
- no social loafing is possible, therefore no member can slack off and everyone will
have to try their hardest and teach the other members of their group
- thought to lead to harmony within groups
- each child will view their group members as individuals, therefore heterogeneity -
- jigsaw classroom may be one of the best routes to increase intergroup
Type of Exposure Contact can be positive or negative
If contact is positive, may debunk stereotypes
But cognitive effort
- you could have a perfectly nice contact with an outgroup member which may then
cause you to think that your stereotype is wrong, but it is cognitively difficult to
encode every positive experience you have with an outgroup member
If contact is negative
Reinforcement of existing stereotypes
Creation of new negative stereotypes
Illusory correlation (shared distinctiveness)—when two distinct
events co-occur, we assume they always co-occur
e.g., a little green martian is peeing in a potted plant (a distinct event),
you think that they all do this, they are gross, and you hate them,
therefore forming a new stereotype
- negative contact is more likely because you usually go into something thinking it is
going to be negative
- any new group you haven’t had much contact with, you feel uncomfortable
- you can create new negative stereotypes with any outgroup member if they are
new and distinctive to you
When two distinct (unusal) events co-occur, we assume that they always co-
Research on this?
Hamilton & Gifford (1976)
Vary distinctiveness of group size and type of behaviour
BUT group size and type of behaviour are uncorrelated
- if one gr