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Chapter 1- Introduction to the study of stereotyping and prejudice


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Michael Inzlicht

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CHAPTER 1: Introduction to the Study of
Stereotyping and Prejudice
Groups are not unique to humans. Some researchers theorize that the
tendency to form groups is such a basic part of the nature of animals,
including humans, and has conveyed survival benefits so successful that it
has (e.g. fighting off predators, raising offspring successfully) withstood time
and evolution.
There are some disadvantages and complications that groups bring:
Mate competition
Mate retention.
They tend to form closer ties to members of their own group, and they tend
to be suspicious and rejecting of members of other groups.
Groups tend to favor their own groups (called in-groups) over other groups
to which they do not belong (out groups)
Randomly assigning people to group A or group B is an example of minimal
group; people tend to show preference for members of their own group
over those of other groups.
They form the basis for negative feelings about other groups (prejudice)
and for believing that certain characteristics are associated with other
groups (forming stereotypes) often because out-group members are
perceived to be antithetical to the in-groups welfare or values.
Evolutionary psychology suggests, in-group preferences and hostility toward
out groups are adaptive, and therefore innate, there is little we can do to
avoid prejudice and stereotyping.
Why is the study of prejudice and stereotyping important?
A need to understand the negative influence such thinking has on the
thoughts, feelings, and behaviour of people in their daily lives, and how they
relate to the targets of their prejudice, it is important to understand that
such negative attitudes form the basis for subsequent negative intergroup
behaviour. [Wars]
Some believe that there is a huge decline in prejudice and stereotyping in
the US, but it’s just that overt expressions of racial prejudice and intergroup
hatred have declined dramatically, racial prejudice and stereotypes have by
no means disappeared.

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Lippmanns “stereotype
Originally derives from a term to describe a printing process in which fixed
casts of material are reproduced.
Lippmann used the word to describe the tendency of people to think of
someone or something in similar terms that is, as having similar attributes
based on a common feature shared by each. He said that we all have
“pictures in our heads” (p.3) of the world outside and that their
representations are more likely templates into which we try to simplify the
sometimes-confusing information we receive from the world.
“We pick out what our culture has already defined for us, and we tend to
perceive that which we have picked up in the form stereotyped for us by our
Basically meaning stereotypes tell us what social information is important to
perceive and to disregard in our environment.
This confirms preexisting stereotypes by paying attention to stereotype
consistent information and disregarding information that is inconsistent with
our stereotypes.
The content of stereotypes is largely determined by the culture in which one
After Lippmann, researchers generally began to regard stereotyping as a
very negative, lazy way of perceiving social groups. Stereotyping was
seen as an outward indicator of irrational, no analytic cognition. An
example of rigid thinking.
Allport: a stereotype is an exaggerated belief associated with a category.
The Social Cognitive Definition
In the early 1970s, with the birth of social cognition, researchers came to
regard stereotyping as a rather automatic process of categorization that
many cognitive and social psychologists believe is inherent in the very
nature of the way humans thinking about the world
A stereotype is any generalization about a group whether an
observer (either a member of the stereotyped group or another
observer) believes it is justified or not.
Hamilton and Troliers definition of a stereotype as a cognitive structure
that contains the perceiver’s knowledge, believes, and expectations
about a human group (TOO BROAD: knowledge, believes, and

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expectations about a human group, and inconsistent with the traditional
definitions of a stereotype)
Sounds more like the definition of a schema than of a stereotype. Schemas
are therefore broader cognitive structures that contain our knowledge of a
stimulus, our expectations for the motives or behaviour of the stimulus (if a
living being) and our feelings toward the stimulus. Example page 5.
Stereotype: a set of beliefs about the personal attributes of a group
of people Ashmore and Del Boca.
Cultural and Individual Stereotypes:
It is important to differentiate between cultural and individual
Cultural: shared or community wide patterns of beliefs.
Individual: describes the beliefs held by an individual about the
characteristic of a group.
This is important, because ones cultural stereotype about a group may not
be the same as ones individual stereotype about the group.
Which of these two tends to predict future behaviour and attitudes toward a
given group?
Early thinking cultural.
Now individual because these are most directly related to that persons
specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviour toward the group.
Is a stereotype an attitude?
Some say yes. At attitude is a general evaluation of some object.
Attitudes comprise of three components: a behavioral component, an
affective component, and a cognitive component. THUS, stereotypes as
intergroup attitudes, partitioned into these three components.
MOST believe that stereotyping represent only the cognitive portion of any
intergroup attitude.
Prejudice represent the affective component
Discrimination represents the behaviour component.
Discrimination: any negative behaviour directed toward an individual
based on their membership in a group.
Positive versus Negative stereotpyes
Researchers do not regard stereotypes as bad or good; they are merely
generalizations about a group.
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