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PSYC 2120 Lecture Notes - The Stereotypes, Ultimate Attribution Error, Contact Hypothesis

Course Code
PSYC 2120
Irwin Silverman

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PSYC 2120 Chapter 12: Prejudice
Prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination defined
- Prejudice is a widespread phenomenon, present in all walks of life
- Social psychologists define prejudice as a hostile or negative attitude toward a
distinguishable group of people based on solely on their group membership.
- A stereotype is the cognitive component of prejudice; it is defined as a generalization
about a group whereby identical characteristics are assigned to virtually all members,
regardless of actual variation among the members
- Discrimination, the behavioural component of prejudice, is defined as unjustified
negative or harmful action toward members of a group based on their membership in that
- As a broad based and powerful attitude, prejudice has many causes, specifically five
aspects of life that bring about prejudice:
1. The way people think
2. The way people feel
3. The way people assign meaning or make attributions
4. The way people allocate resources
5. The way people conform to social rules
What causes prejudice?
- Social cognitive processes (the way we think) are an important element in the creation
and maintenance of stereotypes and prejudice
- Categorization of people into groups leads to the formative of in groups and out groups.
- The in group bias means that we treat members of our own group more positively than
members of the out group
- The perception of out group homogeneity is another consequence of categorization: in
group members perceive out group members as being more similar to one another than in
group members are to one another
- Stereotypes are widely known; even if you do not believe them, they can affect your
cognitive processing of information about an out group member
- Recent research has shown that stereotypes can be selectively activated or inhibited,
depending on motivational factors, most notably self enhancement.
- The stereotypes that we believe out groups hold of us, known as meta stereotypes, also
play a role in prejudice. We expect more negative interactions with, and show more
prejudice toward, members of groups who we believe hold negative stereotypes of us
- Our emotions or moods also determine how prejudice we are
- When we are in a good mood, we are likely to evaluate members of out groups more
favourably than when we are in a bad mood
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