Bodenhausen & Macrae article “The Self-Regulation of Intergroup Perception”
Through relationships and interactions, people make behavioural choices based on subjective
interpretations of their surroundings
Important potential source of divergence b/w subjective interpretations and objective truths is the use of
inferential processes (AKA CONCLUSION BASED ON EVIDENCE)
use detectable characteristics of social stimuli to derive assumed characteristics that are not
otherwise initially perceived . E.g. stereotyping
The Well-Intentioned Cognitive Miser: Mental Dilemmas of Multicultural Societies
*Cognitive miser is the idea that only a small amount of information is actively perceived by individuals when
making decisions, and many cognitive shortcuts (such as drawing on prior information and knowledge) are used
instead to attend to relevant information and arrive at a decision
conflicting concerns and interests rise in modern social environments
for many individuals, the notion of relying on stereotypes to judge others has developed
the appeal of engaging in stereotyping has many sides/aspects:
social perceivers can satisfy important motivations by viewing others in stereotypic terms
they feel better about themselves and construct superior images of their own social groups by
developing unfavourable impressions of out-groups
by developing beliefs about disadvantaged groups that justify their reason for experiencing
unequal resource distribution, advantaged groups feel more comfortable with social inequality
stereotyping allows social perceivers to conserve mental resources while still producing coherent
the metaphor of “cognitive miser” captures the human tendency to “satisfice” rather than optimize (refer
back to cognitive miser definition)
unless there is a pressing motivational force for accuracy, stereotyping may be the preferred path to a social
impression for most perceivers.
Stereotyping confers a sense of predictability and orderliness on a complex social world, for many
One automatized, stereotypes may spring to the mind in the presence of outgroup members, whether they
are desired or not, and the perceiver may not be able to control/prevent this initial activation
In an influential paper by Devine (1989), she found that individuals who do not personally subscribe to
stereotypical beliefs about African Americans, were affected by these stereotypes when they had been
“primed” by the presentation by group labelsstereotypes can have unintended unpreventable effects
A growing body of literature shows that activation of social categories does occur spontaneously, that is
affected by psychological factors.
For example is a person’s membership in a social category is contextually salient (being the only
black person in a group), the person is likely to be spontaneously categorized.
Characteristics of the perceiver, such as personal prejudices, affect the stereotype activation process.
They make certain bases for social categorization chronically salient; when members of targeted
categories are encountered, they tend to be categorized routinely based on group membership
Zarate and Smith (1990) demonstrated that people who readily categorized others in terms of their race,
were also likely to draw stereotypic inferences about them.
Thus, although some conditions interfere w/ spontaneous activation of stereotypes, stereotypic
notions can creep automatically into perceivers’ thoughts
Stereotyping may have origins in several motivational forces, but it develops into an automatic mental
habit, even if the perceiver’s motivations change
The habitual nature of stereotyping is reinforced by systematic information-processing biases that
contribute to the creation of an illusory mental database that supports stereotypic beliefs.
Stereotype-confirming information leads to memory bias which is stronger with well-developed stereotypes
such sex, and race.
Facts: Ambiguous information tends to construed as stereotypie-confirming; stereotypic conjectures and
fantasies tend to be misremembered as facts; attributions for behaviour of stereotyped targets tend to perpetuate stereotypic ideas (e.g women succeed in masculine tasks b/c of luck); perceivers may react to
stereotyped targets in ways that elicit stereotype-confirming behaviour (e.g self-fulfilling preophecy)
These processes tend to produce database of knowledge that confirm the original stereotypic
expectancies held by perceiver, even if the evidence has been unconsciously tainted.
* b/c stereotypic biases can disadvantage members of stigmatized social groups in important ways, identifying
mechanisms that produce and maintain the validity of stereotypes in the minds of social perceivers has been
an important scientific accomplishment
Many people have developed egalitarian values, yet they have been socialized to hold stereotypic views
and prejudiced feelings towards many minority groups.
Monteith (1993). Stated that when peoples thoughts, feelings, or behaviour seem to violate their
egalitarian/nonprejudiced standards, they become self-focuses and direct effort at reducing this
Low-prejudice persons feel bad when their reactions to out-group members violate their own
nonprejudiced standards, so they are motivated to avoid stereotyping
Those who have not internalized nonprejudiced standards may be motivated to avoid stereotyping
b/c of the strong disapproval that comes with it
While the stereotyping process occurs automatically, successfully overriding this process undoubtedly
requires some controlled conscious effort
Governing the Society of Mind: Self-Regulation of Mental Processes
Baumesiter and Newman (1994) reviewed evidence that shows when a person prefers a specific
conclusion, they tend to process info in a biases way that permits exactly this conclusion to be drawn. This
process may involve:
Selectively attending to preferred evidence, setting differential evidential criteria for preferred vs.
Nonpreferred conclusions, and many other mechanisms that are automatic and not consciously
- a lawyer in this situation, for example, may be unaware that any “massaging” of
evidence has occurred and may believe their judgments to be objective—even when
they’re really not.
In order to counter the effects of automatic stereotypical judgements, one strategy is to make direct
adjustments to one’s judgements and conclusions in the direction opposite to the presumed bias doing so
have lead to suppression of their stereotypes (usually done by more ambitious perceivers).
Wegner and Colleagues have developed a dual process model of thought control that starts with the
realization that for any control process to be effective, it must be able to test the status of the environment,
and to operate on the environment when the test process yields less than satisfactory results
E.g. in the case of mental control, there must be a process to monitor mental contents and a
process to operate on mental contents when an undesired thought is detected by the monitoring
When the social perceiver resolves to suppress stereotypic reactions to an out-group member, this goal sets
in motion a monitor