CHAPTER 6: EXPERIENCING PREJUDICE
Prejudice originated and was maintained within the majority perceiver of the
It is a fairly intuitive notion to think that if a perceiver holds prejudice
toward a target, and if we want to understand the processes that lead to the
formation, maintenance, and reduction of that prejudice, we need to
understand more about that perceiver.
Stereotyping and prejudice are not processes that involve a perceiver
regarding an inactive target of stereotyping.
Rather, stereotyping and prejudice occur in a dynamic social context
involving the perceiver and target reacting to each other.
It is a two way street, involving feedback from the target and often confirms
the expectations of the perceiver, with the perceiver’s behaviour often then
confirming the expectations of the target.
Think of being different as a child, how did people perceive you? Negatively?
This is why so many people try to fit in with the majority: so they will not be
singled out for ridicule or treated negatively by others.
Such treatment is fairly overly among children, who, not having learned
socially sophisticated methods of expressing disapproval, will have no
compunction about telling everyone and the individual in question about the
target’s deficiencies (sometimes entailing laughter, cruel jokes an/or
Among adults, those negative evaluations may take the form of subtle
negative comments, rude behaviour, or other subtle expressions of
Noted sociologist Erving Goffman referred to the unusual characteristics that
engender negative evaluations as being indicators of stigma. The
stigmatized person is one who is “reduced in our minds from a whole and
usual person to a tainted, discounted one”
Stigmas are characteristics that mark the individual as “deviant, flawed,
limited, spoiled or generally undesirable”
The reader will note that stigma encompasses all the more familiar situations
where prejudice is shown (i.e. racial, religious, gender, age, sexual
orientation), but it also covers any physical, Behavioural, psychological
marker that elicits negative evaluation from society.
Goffman denoted three types of stigmas:
Abominations of the body (e.g. physical deformities, being overweight, etc.)
Blemishes of individual character (e.g. drunkenness)
Tribal stigmas of race, nation, and religion (e.g. prejudice against another
Research indicates that individuals faced with external threats show stronger
Example: with Jewish persons, African Americans, and women.
Doosje and Ellemers found that people differ in the degree to which they
identify with their stigmatized group.
High identifiers are much more likely to associate themselves with their
group, even when-especially when-it has a negative image.
High identifiers derive much of their self-esteem from their identification as a
They are much more likely to seek collective strategies against group threat.
In it for the long run, super loyal.
Low identifiers, are much more likely to dissociate themselves from the
group, especially when the group has a negative image.
No special affinity toward, or derive no self esteem from, their group
Quite prepared to let the group fall apart, when the group is threatened or
has a negative image.
Low identifiers are thus much more individualistic and opportunistic in that
they will only identify themselves with the group when it would positively
affect their social identity.
Individuals in stereotyped groups often find themselves ever vigilant about
not behaving in ways that confirm stereotypes.
This is the stereotype threat.
It would seem that if you were aware of the stereotype and you decided to
behave in ways that disconfirm the stereotype, you would behave in that
counter stereotypical fashion, and that would be it.
The anxiety that one feels in thinking about possibly confirming the
stereotype can be so debilitation that it actually impairs one’s performance
on the stereotype-relevant dimension, thereby having the paradoxical effect
of confirming the stereotype.
Research suggests that stereotype threat has its effect through the
mediating influence of a drop in working-memory capacity.
Research shows that people under stereotype threat actually fare worse
physiologically than their non-threatened counterparts.
Specifically, Black participants in a threatened condition showed significantly
higher blood pressure than their non-threatened counterparts.
The researchers suggest that this may help explain the higher incidence of
coronary heart disease and high blood pressure among Black persons.
Most of the attention has focused on stereotypes that revolve around
intellectual ability and performance.
Statistics on results of standardized aptitude and intelligence tests over the
decade suggest that African American consistently average about 15 points
les son such measures compared to Caucasians.
Socioeconomic disadvantages that African Americans experience that affect
their academic environment,
Cultural biases embedded into standardized intelligence tests, and
Discrimination and prejudice that they face from others.
However, this does not explain the finding that even when African Americans
and Caucasians have the same preparation.
They found that when African American participants believed that a difficult
verbal test was a measure of their intellectual ability (compared to those
who were not told this), they underperformed compared to Caucasians in the
ability-diagnostic condition (intellectual ability) but performed as well as
Caucasians in the non-diagnostic condition.
They also found that just making the stereotype salient impaired the
performance of African Americans on the task…
Walton and Cohen suggests that this disparity may also be due to what they
term “stereotype lift”: that is, non stigmatized persons seem to experience
a performance enhancement when they engage in a downward comparison
between themselves and a member of a stereotyped outgroup.
Being a member of a stereotyped group can also affect the degree of one’s
self-confidence about performance on the stereotype relevant dimension.
Prejudice originated and was maintained within the majority perceiver of the minority target. Stereotyping and prejudice are not processes that involve a perceiver regarding an inactive target of stereotyping. Rather, stereotyping and prejudice occur in a dynamic social context involving the perceiver and target reacting to each other. It is a two way street, involving feedback from the target and often confirms the expectations of the perceiver, with the perceiver"s behaviour often then confirming the expectations of the target. This is why so many people try to fit in with the majority: so they will not be singled out for ridicule or treated negatively by others. Among adults, those negative evaluations may take the form of subtle negative comments, rude behaviour, or other subtle expressions of prejudice. Noted sociologist erving goffman referred to the unusual characteristics that engender negative evaluations as being indicators of stigma.