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University of Toronto Scarborough
Michael Inzlicht

CHAPTER 6: EXPERIENCING PREJUDICE Prejudice originated and was maintained within the majority perceiver of the minority target. 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 perceivers behaviour often then confirming the expectations of the target. SOCIAL STIGMA 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 targets deficiencies (sometimes entailing laughter, cruel jokes anor physical hostility). 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. 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 www.notesolution.comorientation), 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 race). GROUP IDENTIFICATION Research indicates that individuals faced with external threats show stronger in-group identification 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 group member. 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. STEREOTYPE THREAT 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 ones performance
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