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Lecture 10

PSYC12H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Implicit Stereotype, Natural Experiment, Pessimism

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Nick Hobson

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Lecture 10: How can we reduce prejudice?
Pessimism in Prejudice Research
This class has focused almost exclusively on the dark side of psychology.
Our world conspires to make us more prejudiced.
Stereotypes are automatic, implicit; inevitable?
Prejudice has insidious long-term consequences for perceivers & targets.
What about the bright side? What can we do to improve the situation? What does the research
Individual Approaches:
- Individual approaches ask the question: “How can we reduce prejudice in an individual person?”
- For example, researchers have asked “How can we get rid of implicit bias?”
- One possibility that has been proposed is to create an environment that contains positive
associations with stereotyped groups.
Individual approaches Context & Associations: For example, here we see advertisements for
the OPP, promoting their diversity. Ads like these are intended to create positive associations
with out-group members.
- Research suggests that to a certain extent -- these sorts of things work.
- E.g., Having minorities group members in high status positions (e.g., police officers and
politicians) creates positive associations for these groups and may help extinguish
stereotypical associations.
- E.g., When the media promoted positive stereotypes about gay people, attitudes became
more positive.
- Research, for example, shows that implicit stereotyping can be reduced when the to-be-
stereotyped group is associated with positive things.
- In one study, for example, Wittenbrink and colleagues had participants watch a scene from
a movie that had Black people positively interacting in a family, picnic setting.
- After watching this movie, the White participants showed less negative implicit attitudes
towards Blacks.
Individual Approaches: Counter-stereotypic role models:Dasgupta & Asgari, 2004
- Can exposure to counter-stereotypic examples reduce implicit prejudice?
- How do positive role models affect prejudice?
- Women’s colleges present a natural experiment into how women’s beliefs are shaped by
exposure to women in counter-stereotypic leadership positions
- The authors compared women in co-ed vs. all women’s colleges.
- Hypotheses:
- 1) Women in women’s colleges will have less stereotyped views of women than women in
co-ed colleges.
- 2) This difference is due to exposure to counter-stereotypical women, not to pre-existing

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Lecture 10: How can we reduce prejudice?
- Method:
- Women in women’s vs. co-ed colleges
- Women in math vs. non-math classes
- DV:
- IAT→ Male + Leader/Female + Supporter vs. Female + Leader/ Male + Supporter
- The gender stereotyping implicit associations of female students in co-ed colleges get worse
in their 2nd compared to 1st year, whereas those in all women’s colleges get better in their
2nd compared to their first year.
Group-based Approaches
- Group-based approaches explore how changes to the group context or group setting may
alter group dynamics, potentially reducing prejudice and stereotyping at the group-level.
- Generalization
- Positive contact between group members often times isn’t enough (because it frequently
leads to subtyping). There needs to be sustained change.
- How does change come about?
- Generalization from target to entire social category
- Differentiation of out-group members; high variability
- Reduce meaningfulness of social category; decategorization
Group-based Approaches: Common in-group Identity
- There is good evidence to support the idea that prejudice can be greatly reduced through
the encouragement of superordinate in-group identities.
- One rather famous intervention is the common in-group identity model.
- According to this model, inter-group prejudice can be reduced by breaking down the
salience of pre-existing group categories by getting the groups to re-conceptualize
themselves as all members of a larger, common in-group identity.
- So, for example, here at UTSC you can think of yourself as White, Black, Asian, Muslim,
Jewish, Indian, etc. or you could think of yourself as a UTSC student. If in certain situations
this common UTSC in-group is highlighted you’ll be less likely to act prejudicially based on
- Super-ordinate goals create common identity, which allows for decategorization and
- Example: For many Americans, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 served as a
unifying experience. As the attacks came from outside the country, a salient out-group was
created. The attacks increased the perception that all Americans are members of a
superordinate nation group. Thus, through recategorization, America as a whole became the
new in-group and a different out-group was created.
Group-based Approaches: Common in-group Identity: The Jigsaw Classroom
- In 1954 the “Brown versus Board of Education” decision by the US Supreme Court ended
segregation between Blacks and Whites. This presented an interesting real life situation for
the social psychological study of intergroup relations.
- Specifically, how would blacks and whites get along now that they would be intermingling in
society? Would prejudice just disappear once people get to know members of the other

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Lecture 10: How can we reduce prejudice?
- Aronson and colleagues (1978) conducted research in an Austin, Texas elementary school,
to examine the effects of a new, cooperative learning environment, compared with the
traditional competitive environment, on Black and White students feelings about members
of the other group.
- They found that the typical elementary classroom environment in the United States is based
on competition between individual students for the attention and praise a teacher.
- Aronson and colleagues wanted to attempt to eliminate competition and to structure
interdependent cooperation between Black & White students in order to examine the
impact of such a structure on prejudice and stereotyping.
- They placed students into small groups of 6 students. The new structure of the classroom
was such that the teacher was no longer the repository of all the answers. Rather, students
were to use each other as resources. The researchers made individual competitiveness
incompatible with success and set up the classroom such that success could only result from
- Each student was given a unique skill. Because of their mutual interdependence, this
method was referred to as the jigsaw system for intergroup cooperation.
- Results: Children in the jigsaw classrooms liked their group members more than others in
the classroom.
- Black and white children began to like each other more, and black students’ self-esteem
increased, and their performance was as good or better than in competitive classrooms.
- Subsequent research has indicated that cooperative jigsaw settings are very effective for
increasing positive intergroup attitudes and for decreasing stereotyping and prejudice.
- More recent research suggests that the impact of jigsaw cooperative groups is even stronger
in situations where the participants focus on getting to know the individual personalities of
each of their group members. In this way, they’re more likely to think of the group members
in terms of their individual attributes and characteristics rather than in terms of their
category based on race, gender, or etc.
Group-based Approaches: Contact Hypothesis
- One of the earliest solutions to the problem of intergroup stereotyping, prejudice, and
discrimination was the contact hypothesis.
- The contact hypothesis proposes that increasing exposure to members of various groups
can increase positive evaluations of the out-group and decrease prejudice and stereotyping.
- The contact hypothesis was first put forward by Williams in 1947 and was especially
appealing at that time that it was introduced, because of the segregation of African-
Americans and Caucasians in the United States.
- In its most basic form, the contact hypothesis suggests that merely putting two groups
together (i.e., mere contact) is sufficient for the reduction of stereotypes and prejudice.
- The idea is that people will naturally “work it out” and get to know one another when
placed in contact with members of the out-group.
- Research has shown, however, that mere contact is sometimes ineffective in changing racial
attitudes. Researchers consequently began to ask not, “does intergroup contact reduce
prejudice?” but rather “what types of contact situations reduce intergroup prejudice?”
- Why is contact oftentimes not enough? Stereotypes and negative affect are elicited prior to
an intergroup interaction. The stereotype filters the perception of the interaction in ways
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