CHAPTER 1: Introduction to the Study of
Stereotyping and Prejudice
o 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.
o There are some disadvantages and complications that groups bring:
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 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.
o 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.
o 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.
o 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]
o Some believe that there is a huge decline in prejudice and stereotyping in
the US, but its just that overt expressions of racial prejudice and
intergroup hatred have declined dramatically, racial prejudice and
stereotypes have by no means disappeared. DEFINING STEREOTYPING
O 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 culture.
i. Basically meaning stereotypes tell us what social information
is important to perceive and to disregard in our environment.
ii. This confirms preexisting stereotypes by paying attention to
stereotype consistent information and disregarding
information that is inconsistent with our stereotypes.
iii. The content of stereotypes is largely determined by the
culture in which one lives.
o 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.
o Allport: a stereotype is an exaggerated belief associated with a category.
O 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
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 perceivers knowledge, believes,
and expectations about a human group (TOO BROAD:
knowledge, believes, and expectations about a human group, and
inconsistent with the traditional definitions of a stereotype)
i. 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
Stereotype: a set of beliefs about the personal attributes
of a group of people Ashmore and Del Boca.
O CULTURAL AND INDIVIDUAL STEREOTYPES:
It is important to differentiate between cultural and individual
i. Cultural: shared or community wide patterns of beliefs.
ii.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
Which of these two tends to predict future behaviour and attitudes
toward a given group?
i. Early thinking cultural.
ii. Now individual because these are most directly related to
that persons specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviour
toward the group.
O IS A STEREOTYPE AN ATTITUDE?
Some say yes. An 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
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.
O POSITIVE VERSUS NEGATIVE STEREOTPYES
Researchers do not regard stereotypes as bad or good; they are
merely generalizations about a group.
Positive stereotypes are simply beliefs that attribute desirable or
positive characteristics to a group. Such as Asians being good at
Gardner: it can be taken literally to indicate a prejudgment about
A prejudice can suggest an evaluation, either positive or negative,
toward a stimulus.
OR a prejudice can suggest that the individual has a negative
evaluation of another stimulus.
* Essentially, an evaluation is an attitude.
Prejudice is seen as a strong negative feeling about someone
based on a generalization one has about that persons group.
o PREJUDICE AS AN ATTITUDE
Prejudice is an attitude --- so affective, behavioral and cognitive
Prejudice can be based on affective (anger), cognitive (beliefs
linking hostility to the out-group) or behavioral (avoidant or hostile)
sources and can result in cognitive, behavioral or affective
expression of prejudice.
Stangor, Sullivan and Ford found that the best predictor of negative
out-group prejudice is not negative feelings about the out-group but
rather a lack of positive emotions.
Some have suggested that stronger, more obvious forms of
prejudice are more likely to be based on strong negative emotions,
whereas more subtle types of prejudice may be based on an
absence of positive feelings about the out-group.