Psychology 3325 Lecture Notes - Stereotype Threat, Gender Role

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4 Mar 2013
Consequences of prejudice from the point of view of the target of prejudice, in specific,
stereotype threat
By prejudice we are referring to a kind of attitude, a particular kind of evaluation, a negative
one of a group of people, who are defined by membership of same characteristics, race,
ethnicity, occupational status, age, sexual orientation, etc. (demographic characteristic)
An evaluation of the group as a whole
A significant component of a prejudice is a stereotype, an over generalized and false belief,
no exceptions
Prejudice and stereotypes are things that we have, when we act on them, we are speaking
on discrimination; discrimination is something that we do, explicitly behaviour
Prejudice is an attitude, discrimination is a belief, and discrimination is a behaviour
To discriminate is to treat people different based on their group membership, most
common forms are limiting access to resources, denying opportunities such as jobs,
economic opportunities
Where do our prejudices come from? Many sources of prejudices, but one commonly sited
and studied from a classic study is the Sherif Camp Study, kids were isolated in a camp and
randomly assigned to two different cabins which were isolated from each other, the cabins
had characteristics that represented two different things, rattlers and eagles, and
participated in different activities as a group
Competitive interactions between two groups, and within a very short period of time, there
was an escalating extent of verbal and physical aggression, kids would tease each other, and
eventually escalated to camp invasions, destroy/remove property, etc., emerged
Each group wanted to elevate their status within their group
Conclusion was that competition cultivated a kind of out group denigration, condemned
members of out groups
Through the course of evolution, this might have had an adaptive value, in earlier points of
history when we were in tribal bands, this kind of ability may have been of benefit (favour
people from one’s own group from another)
Consequences of these actions, prejudice, are stereotype threats, a particular kind of
discomfort or distress, when they are representing their group on some kind of performance
related activity
Imagine a member of a group that is under discrimination, and they are seen weaker in
some kind of ability, and now you must perform it, the theory goes, this additional burden
that you are aware that you are bad at this ability, and you have to perform as good as
everyone else and better than what others expect, and these kinds of cognitions, confirms
the stereotype that people have of you due to the stress
e.g. study of women who were asked to do a math test, and prior to taking it, they were told
there were gender differences on the test, it was left for the women to assume that women
did more poorly, and under this condition, it was compromised, and by just being told that
women did poorly, the drop in performance was obtained (they simply affirmed and
confirmed the stereotype, that math is hard for women)
Teen talking Barbie doll, the doll uttered ‘math is hard’, which caused much controversy
This didn’t happen in the 50s or 70s, but in 1992, pervasive and persistent beliefs, in our
Can the fact that people in fact believe this in women, actually play a role in math related
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