Chapter One: Introduction to The Study of Stereotyping and Prejudice
• 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 successfully that it had withstood time and
• In addition to the tremendous benefits to individuals in groups, however, there are
some disadvantages and complications that group life brings, such as mate
competition and mate retention.
• Group members tend to favour their own groups (ingroups) over other groups to
which they do not belong (outgroups). Even when group membership is based on
the most arbitrary criteria (e.g., randomly assigning people to group A or to group
B, an example of a minimal group), people tend to show preferences for members
of their own group over those of other groups.
• Although such preferences may have adaptive utility from evolutionary and
practical perspectives, 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 the outgroup members are perceived
to be antithetical to the ingroup’s welfare or value.
• Stereotype was adopted by social scientists when journalist Walter 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.
• In other words, stereotypes tell us what social information is important to perceive
and to disregard in our environment.
The SocialCognitive 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
think about the world.
• Schema: A hierarchy organized, cognitive structure that represent knowledge
about a concept or type of stimulus, and its attributes and the relations between
• Another popular definition of stereotypes, by Ashmore and Del Broca, defines
stereotypes as “a set of beliefs about the personal attributes of a group of people.”
This definition is more consistent with the essence of many past definitions of stereotype because it restricts the meaning of stereotype to a generalization about
a group of people.
Cultural and Individual Stereotypes
• A useful but infrequently used distinction must be made when discussing the
definition of stereotype. Specifically, it is important to differentiate between
cultural and individual stereotypes. A cultural stereotype describes “shared or
communitywide patterns of beliefs”, whereas an individual stereotype describes
the beliefs held by an individual about the characteristics of a group.
Is a Stereotype an Attitude?
• Some researchers believe that a stereotype is similar to an attitude. An attitude is a
general evaluation of some object.
• Researchers have traditionally viewed attitudes as comprising three components:
a behavioural component, an affective component, and a cognitive component.
Thus, some theorists define stereotypes as intergroup attitudes, partitioned into
these three components. However, the majority of researchers in this area agree
that stereotypes represent only the cognitive portion of any intergroup attitude.
• The other two components of an intergroup attitude, affect and behaviour,
correspond to prejudice and discrimination respectively. Discrimination is defined
as any negative behaviour directed toward an individual based on their
membership in a group.
• As Gardner suggest the word prejudice can be taken literally to indicate a
prejudgment about something. Prejudice can suggest an evaluation, either positive
or negative, toward a stimulus.
• Finally, Gardner specified another definition of prejudice, in which the individual
has a negative evaluation of another stimulus.
Prejudice as Negative Affect
• Prejudice is seen as a strong negative feeling about someone based on a
generalization one has about that person’s group. This view corresponds most
clearly with the traditional view of an intergroup attitude as composed of
cognitive, affect, and behaviour.
• In such a model, prejudice is the affective component of the intergroup attitude.
Most researchers however, soon abandoned the prejudiceasemotion definition,
in favour of more complex definitions of prejudice.
Prejudice as an Attitude • During the 1960s, and especially with the rise of social cognition in the early
1970s, researchers started regarding prejudice as an evaluation of a stimulus. As
such, prejudice is essentially an attitude. Like an attitude, therefore prejudice is
seen by most researchers to have cognitive, affective and behavioural
• One problem with the earlier definitions of prejudice concerns the focus on the
negative affect toward the outgroup. This unnecessarily limits the definitions of
prejudice, because prejudice can also refer to positive prejudice in favour of one’s
ingroup (ingroup favouritism).
• Prejudice can be based on affective (e.g. anger), cognitive (e.g., beliefs linking
hostility to the outgroup), or behavioural (e.g., avoidant or hostile) sources and
can result in cognitive, behavioural, and affective expressions of prejudice. It
seems, though, that affect is a common, influential basis upon which most
prejudice is based.
• Stronger, more obvious forms of prejudice are more likely to be based on an
absence of positive feelings, about the outgroup.
• A recent, interesting approach by Eagly and Diekman suggest that prejudice
should be regarded as an “attitudeincontext.” According to this model, prejudice
is not inflexible; rather, it depends on the match (or lack thereof) between the
social role into which the stereotyped individual is trying to fit and the beliefs of
the perceiver about the attributes that are required for success in that role. It the
role is highly valued, the prototypical member in the role will tend to be viewed
only slightly more positively than a roleincongruent individual in that position.
Eagly and Diekman argue that prejudice is most likely to be displayed toward a
disadvantaged group when that group tries to move into roles for which they are
believed by the majority group to be unqualified.
• There have been some critics of the prejudiceasattitude approach, however.
Criticism centers around a couple of core problems. First, some theorists assert
that an attitude (or evaluation) is not the same as affect. If prejudice is an affect
based reaction to a stimulus group, then it cannot be the case that an evaluation of
the group is the same thing as prejudice. Second, Devine, asserts that the notion
that prejudice has an affective, cognitive, and behavioural component is
problematic because research shows that the three component are not always
Prejudice as a “Social Emotion”
• In an insightful paper, Smith draws on appraisal theories of emotion and self
categorization theory to suggest a new conceptualization of prejudice. Self
categorization theory states that people view themselves as a member of a social
category or group. According to this theory, intergroup interactions will make
salient particular group categorizations, depending on the nature of the group
• According to Smith and Ellsworth, an appraisal is a set of cognitions that are
attached to a specific emotion. Emotion, in appraisal theory, is triggered by a assessment of the adaptive significance and selfrelevance of the people and
events in one’s environment.
• Smith suggests that appraisals invariably involve the self, because they have
relevance to one’s goals in some fashion. There are two key differences in
Smith’s conceptualization of prejudice that make it a unique and very useful
model of prejudice. First he says that it is too vague to say that prejudice is a
positive or negative feeling about another group.
• Second, the traditional conception of prejudice suggests that if we are prejudiced
against another group, then we should react with the same negative affect to all
members of the group every time we encounter them. But, this does not fit with
reality. Many prejudiced people can dislike the group as a whole, and most of its
members, but have genuinely positive attitudes and affect toward a specific
member of that group.
• Some have suggested that this reaction can be explained in terms of subtyping,
whereby the prejudiced individual maintains a negative affect toward the group
but creates a separate category for specific members, thereby allowing the
perceiver’s stereotypes to persist in the fact of what would otherwise be a
• How we react to any given outgroup member depends on (1) what selfcategory is
salient for us at that moment, (2) in what context the interaction occurs, and (3)
how that person helps or hinders our movement toward salient personal or group
goals at that time.
• Researchers can generally agree on a few points. Prejudice:
1. Occurs between groups.
2. Involves an evaluation (positive or negative) of a group.
3. Is a biased perception of a group
4. Is based on the real or imagined characteristics of the group.
• For the purpose of think book, we will define prejudice as a biased evaluation of a
group, based on real or imagined characteristics of the group members.
The Link Between Stereotyping and Prejudice
• The idea that stereotypes and prejudice should be strongly related was also
supported by the balance theory as well as Fishbein and Ajzen’s theory of
reasoned action. According to the balance theory, one’s attitudes, behaviour, and
evaluation (and affect) toward another person should be cognitively consistent, or
else one experiences a state of “imbalance,” which is an aversive state of
“cognitive arousal.” Festinger called this “cognitive dissonance.” One way to
think of this is that when we say one thing and do another we feel foolish or
hypocritical. Balance theory says that it does not make sense for one to have
positive attitudes toward, for example, lawyers but to tell negative jokes about
them. According to the theory of reasoned action, our beliefs about a group will
be determined by our attitudes toward a group.
Early Perspectives In Stereotyping Research Individual Differences in Stereotyping
• The motivationalreinforcement theories suggest that the prevalence of prejudice
and stereotyping was attributable to the need for social approval and selfesteem.
If people felt poorly about themselves and their lot in life, all they needed to do
was to publicly derogate a particular stereotyped group, and they could find ready
allies in complete strangers who felt the same motives and negative attitudes.
Thus, stereotyping can be explained by Thorndike’s Law of Effect, which says
that any behaviour that is followed by a positive event will be more likely to be
performed again in the future.
• Other researchers suggested that prejudice and stereotyping arose out of feelings
of aggression” theory, Dollard et al. suggest that frustration leads to aggression,
and a special type of aggression is feelings of prejudice toward others. There is
some interesting indirect evidence that bears on this theory.
• In addition to the motivational approaches, other research has investigated the
question of whether some people have socalled prejudiced personalities.
• According to this view, a child’s early experiences with their parents determine
whether they will develop a prejudiced personality. Driven by unconscious
impulses created out of these early childparent interactions, the child tends to
seek out and adopt prejudiced attitudes.
• What characterizes the authoritarian individual is a rigid adherence to middle
class values, submissiveness to authority, closemindedness, blackandwhite
thinking, preoccupation with power relationships, cynicism, and condemnation of
those who are perceived to be violating traditional values.
• From the close of the 1950s to the early 1970s researchers began to focus on
cultural and broader grouplevel explanations for stereotyping and prejudice.
Duckitt describes the shift from an individualdifferences focus to a grouplevel
focus as originating in two factors. First, individuallevel explanations were
unable to adequately explain why there was much more prejudice and racism in
the southern states of the United States. Second, the rise of the civilrights
movement in the late 1950s highlighted the institutionalized nature of racism in
the United States and showed that lessprejudiced people were condoning racism
right alongside the more blatant racists.
• A popular approach was to explain prejudice and stereotyping as a result of a
perceived group threat.
• Anything that blocks one (or one’s group) from reaching a desired goal should
elicit a reaction of frustration, anxiety, anger, and so forth directed toward the
• Another grouplevel approach was the explanation of prejudice as the result of
competition for scarce resources. This was the prediction from the realistic
conflict theory. According to this theory, prejudice and stereotyping of outgroups
arises when groups compete against one another for scarce resources. The SocialCognition Revolution
• From the late 1950s through the 1960s, researchers focused on cognitive
consistency theories of behaviour. The most notable of these was Festinger’s
cognitivedissonance theory. Dissonance theory suggested that people are
motivated to maintain consistent cognitions and that the lack of cognitive
consistency led to an aversive physiological state (dissonance).
• Suppose a smoker knows that smoking is bad for their health but smokes
anyways. These behaviours are cognitively inconsistent and should produce
dissonance, motivating them to change either their behaviour or the way they
think about it
• Unfortunately, cognitiveconsistency theories fell out of favour with social
cognition researchers because it could not account for many instances of blatant
inconsistency in attitudes and behaviour. It became clear that people often
behaved in ways that were inconsistent with their attitudes and that they did not
appear to be bothered by that fact.
• The central question in attribution is, to what do we attribute the causes of another
person’s behaviour? The causes are attributed to either internal characteristics of
the person or to the situational pressures or other environmental factors external to
• From the standpoint of attribution theory, stereotyping and prejudice emerge as a
result of cognitive processes that lead people to disproportionately suspect
negative motivations or causes for the behaviour of outgroup members.
• The “naïve scientist” approach suggested that people will use a rational thought
process to arrive at an accurate assessment of the causes of another’s behaviour. A
problem with this view soon emerged as more attribution research was conducted.
There were many instances in which people had plenty of access to information
and plenty of time to arrive at a thoughtful attributional judgement, and yet their
judgements reflected something else. Research revealed that people are often
irrational, inefficient thinkers and that they allow biases and shortcuts to influence
The SocialCognition View of Stereotyping and Prejudice
• What was novel was the connection between categorization and stereotyping, and
that categorization was an inevitable aspect of human cognition.
• We learn about different stimuli and tend to group them in terms of common features, attributes, or functions. This categorization process then becomes so well
practiced as to become automatic, and it frees up our consciousness to attend to
things that are novel in our environment, or to our current task. Thus,
categorization helps us reduce the complexity of the stimuli in our social
• Although we can categorize people on the basis of virtually any real or perceived
feature, most categorization takes place with the fastest and most immediately
available ways of categorizing others: in terms of race, gender, and age. These
have been termed “basic”, or “primitive,” categories to denote the notion that they
seem to occur rather automatically, without conscious effort to initiate such
The Cognitive Miser
• People overwhelmingly embrace efficiency rather than accuracy in their
perceptions of the social world. This view of the perceiver is often referred to as
the “cognitive miser” model.
• The main goal seems to be to arrive at the fastest judgements or evaluations
possible. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, if one is able to form an
impression quickly, the anxiety associated with not knowing how to behave
toward, or what to expect from the target individual is eliminated. Second, there
are few, and often no, negative outcomes for arriving at inaccurate assessments of
• The cognitivemiser model of social perception heavily emphasizes the role of
cognition and does not include other factors, such as affect or motivation. This
aspect of the model symbolizes a problem that many critics had with the social
cognition movement in social psychology.
The Motivated Tactician
• According to this perspective, the perceiver is an integral part of the social
context, with motivations that vary depending on the dynamic nature of the
context. These motivations can bias how the person perceives any other
individual, depending on how it best suits the perceiver’s salient needs, values, or
goals at that given time.
• From the cognitivemotivational, approach, categorization elicits the need to view
one’s ingroups positively relative to one’s outgroups. Thus, the social perceiver
may sometimes think about the target individual n a considered manner in order
to enhance accuracy, and sometimes they many elect to consider the other person
in a heuristic fashion, to maximize speed or to enhance one’s selfesteem.
• Motivation: The impetus to do some behaviour ( or avoid doing some behaviour),
and to keep doing it, in order to meet one’s goals.
Chapter Two: Origin and Maintenance of Stereotypes and Prejudice • The individual whom most of social psychologists regard as the father of modern
social psychology, Kurt Lewin, suggested that social science, and psychology in
particular ought to have a very strong applied focus with the aim of addressing
social problems and informing social policy and legislation with the goal of
improving the welfare of humanity.
The Formation of Stereotypes
• Stereotypes were no longer regarded as the product of lazy thinking by the
uneducated or those with moral deficiencies. Instead, most researchers have taken
Allport’s lead and now regard stereotypes as a natural consequence of cognition.
Why We Categorize
• The reason is that humans have a limitedcapacity cognitive system that cannot
simultaneously process all the available information in our social environment.
Because we have a need to understand and even anticipate the behaviour of
others, humans have developed ways around our limited cognitive system. One of
the best ways is categorization. We categorize people on the basis of shared
features, or even shared time and space. Based on Aristotle’s principle of
association, we assume that things that are similar on the basis of one feature or
because they occur together will likely have other notable similarities on a
number of dimensions.
Type of Categorization
• When we perceive an individual, we tend to classify that person along a few
broad categories: race, gender, and age. These are the major ways we first
categorize someone because these are the most immediate and obvious features of
an individual, and because these categories yield much information about useful
distinctions in social behaviour between those in different groups. These
categories, often referred to as basic categories, or primitive categorises, have
been accorded special status by researchers because these categorizations have
strong influences on how the perceiver interprets most of the other information
about the perceived individual.
Ingroups and Outgroups
• One of the most basic ways we partition people in our social environment is into
ingroups (groups to which we belong) and outgroups (groups to which we do not
• The tendency to think in these terms has been referred to as outgroup
homogeneity and ingroup bias (or favouritism).
• Outgroup homogeneity: The belief that members of outgroups are more similar to
each other than are members of one’s ingroups. • Ingroup bias (favouritism): The tendency to favour, and have positive affect for,
members of one’s own group, and to attribute more positive characteristics to
one’s ingroup than to outgroup.
• Perceiving outgroups as all alike, and our ingroups as diverse helps us satisfy two
major goals; we greatly simplify our social environment by categorizing others in
that way, and we enhance our selfconcept by thinking that we do not belong to a
homogeneous, cookiecutter type of group in which all members are similar in
many dimensions. Rather, we attribute great individuality and a host of other
positive attributes to our ingroup members.
• Exposure to members of a stereotyped outgroup can lead to either a more
homogeneous (and more stereotyped) or heterogeneous (and more positive) view
of the outgroup, depending on the context.
• Positive encounters with members of the stereotyped group tend to lead perceiver
to show more sympathetic beliefs about the group and be open to further
interactions with that outgroup.
• Groups that have no meaningful basis for their membership, known as minimal
groups, would exhibit the same ingroup favouritism found in more meaningful
• Minimal groups are called that because they have none of the usual features of
group structure: a coherent group structure, facetoface interaction, a set of
norms for the group members, interactions with other groups, and so forth.
Researchers have found that even when people are arbitrarily assigned to a group
they display ingroup favouritism or outgroup homogeneity.
Childhood Intergroup Contact
• People who had more interracial contact showed the least amount of stereotyping
and were significantly less prejudiced than those who were rather isolated from
Blacks when they were children.
Value Transmission in Families
• In a review of the literature and based on their own research, Rohan and Zanna
found that there is support for the notion that parents and their adult children are
very similar in intergroup attitudes. The biggest factor that seemed to influence
the degree of parent and child intergroup attitude similarity was whether the
parents exhibited RightWing Authoritarianism.
• The attitudes of adult children of lowRWA parents were very similar to those of
their parents. The relationship between the intergroup attitudes of highRWA
parents and those of their children was a bit more complex, depending on whether
the child saw the parent as responsive. Those who viewed their highRWA
parents as responsive were much more attitudinally similar to their parents,
compared to those who viewed their parents as unresponsive.
Influence of Stereotypes on Cognition in Children • Majority – and minority group members tend to remember more positive and few
negative behaviours about the majoritygroup and more negative and fewer
positive behaviours about the minority group.
• Implicit theories: Our individual beliefs about the nature of personality and the
behaviours, attitudes, and values associated with certain types of individuals.
• Some people, termed entity theorists, believe that one’s personality traits are fixed
and cannot be changed, while others, termed incremental theorists, believe that
one’s personality trait are flexible and can be modified.
• Entity theorists tend to believe that because traits are fixed, they are stable
indicators of behaviour. They also believe that behaviour is consistent. As a
result, they should also be more likely to infer a host of related targetpersonality
characteristics based on an isolated behaviour by the target. On the other hand,
incremental theorists should be less likely to make such an inference, because
they are more cognizant of the belief that behaviour (and personality) is less
predictable just based on one sample of behaviour.
The Efficiency of Stereotypes
• In general, much research shows that when we are confronted with a lot of
information about a target, and we are required to make a social judgment about
that individual, we are more likely to use stereotypes in our assessment of the
target. On the other hand, when our cognitive task is simple, we are much less
likely to rely on stereotypes in our assessment of the other person, because our
cognitive capacity to think carefully about the other person’s attributes is not
taxed by the need to process a lot of information about the person to arrive at an
How and Why Stereotypes Are Maintained
Selective Attention to StereotypeRelevant Information
• With regard to stereotyperelevant information about an outgroup, the results
indicated that participants remembered more stereotypeconfirming information
than disconfirming information. However, when it came to stereotyperelevant
information about their own group, participants were more likely to remember
• Highprejudice but not lowprejudice persons pay more attention to stereotype
inconsistent behaviours in order to attribute them to external factors and
stereotypeconsistent behaviours to internal (personality) factors.
Illusory Correlations • In our attempt to make sense of the social world, we often try to notice when
events cooccur, or covary. That is, we are trying to figure out what things are
correlated. In so doing, we can develop a sense of what to expect, and even
predict when events should occur.
• We often perceive a relationship between variables that are only weekly
correlated or not correlated at all. Researchers call these perceived relationships
• Illusory correlations can lead to both the formation and maintenance of
stereotypes. When one perceives a distinctive group behaving undesirably, we are
more likely to notice that event, because it is an usual occurrence. The co
occurrence of the distinctive group and the undesirable behaviour can lead to the
perception of a link between the group and the supposedly natural tendency to do
the undesirable behaviour.
• According to the terror management theory, when we think about our mortality,
it arouses a need for stability, predictability, and order in the world.
• All people tend to be cognitive misers, tending to be more interested in cognitive
efficiency and the speed of judgments than in the accuracy of their evaluations. It
appears however, that under certain conditions, this tendency can be
supercharged, and this increases the chances for heuristic, stereotypical thinking
about other groups.
• In addition to the many cognitive biases, heuristics, and other capacity limitations
of our cognitive system, we also form and maintain prejudice on the basis of
motivation to do so. That is, we may have a specific interest in perceiving another
group as inferior to our own group, and our effort and energy directed at meeting
that goal is what most researchers would refer to as motivation.
Origin of Prejudice
• According to the socialidentity theory (SIT), we all have a need for positive self
regard, and this need fuels motivational and cognitive biases in social perception
aimed at helping us feel good about ourselves. The theory says that there are
essentially two ways we can obtain positive selfregard: by one’s own
achievements and by the groups to which one belongs.
Optimal Distinctiveness Theory
• Recall that the socialidentity theory suggests that people sometimes feel a need to
identify strongly with a particular group, in order to enhance their selfesteem.
Brewer suggests that our social motives are governed by an alternating tension
between our need to be our own unique person and our need to belong to groups. • According to the ODT, if we want to be able to predict when and with what group
an individual will identify, we need to know more than the status of the
individual’s ingroups relative to their outgroups. To be more accurate in our
prediction of intergroup behaviour, we need to understand the balance between
the belongingness and uniqueness motives in the individual.
• Some theorists have suggested that the likelihood of intergroup conflict is often
tied to economic conditions, and that when the times get tough economically,
people are more likely to take their frustration out on outgroups. In one of the
earliest studies of this idea, Hovland and Sears analyzed the relationship between
the number of lynchings and the economy of the South. They operationalized
“economy” by measuring the farm value of cotton, and the peracre value of
cotton, because cotton was a major product of the South, and it would therefore be
a good index of economic impact for the population studied. Hovland and Sears
charted the economy from 1882 to 1930 and found, in line with their prediction,
that lynchings were more frequent during hard economic times and less frequent
during times of prosperity.
• This Scapegoat theory postulates that when an individual becomes thwarted from
a particular goal, they may feel anger, irritation, or disappointment.
• People routinely compare themselves to other, in order to assess how their
attitudes, cognitions, feelings, or behaviours compare to others in their
environment. We also tend to compare our situation to that of others. That is, we
are interested in knowing if the things we have are equal to, lesser than, or greater
than other individuals in our society.
• For example, your neighbours enjoy hundreds of channels from which to select
their programs, whereas your setup provides you with just a small fraction of that
amount. In comparing yourself to your neighbours, you may experience what is
called “relative deprivation.” That is, your situation is lesser than that of others. In
his formal statement of relative deprivation theory, Davis suggests that when
people (1) decide that they want Z, (2) compare themselves with similar others
who have Z, and they (3) feel entitled to Z, they will feel deprived.
• Runciman suggested that it is important to distinguish between egoistic relative
deprivation and fraternal relative deprivation. The former is the type of situation
in which an individual compares their life to that of other individuals. Fraternal
relative deprivation, however, involves a comparison of how one’s ingroup fares
relative to an outgroup with regard to a desired goal.
Realistic Conflict Theory
• In his realistic conflict theory (RCT), Campbell suggested that when two groups
are in competition for scarce resources, feelings of hostility and prejudice toward the other group will emerge.
• Realisticconflictinduced prejudice tends to emerge when people perceive an
outgroup as having similar workrelated personality traits and abilities.
Interestingly, however, when perceivers were asked to evaluate an outgroup’s
similarity to themselves on nonworkrelated traits, they were less prejudiced
against those who were rated as more similar.
• Contact hypothesis, suggests that prejudice can be eliminated (or reduced) if two
groups are brought into contact with each other. The idea here is that because
prejudice is often born out of ignorance and fear, having people get together with
outgroup members would result in them forming intergroup friendships, and their
prejudices would subside.
• Campbell speculated that when the goals of two groups are compatible, the
attitudes of one group toward the other group should be more tolerant, if not
• In this theory the superordinate goal should work to reduce ingroupoutgroup
distinctions and cause the individuals to reconceptualise their group affiliation in
terms of a unified, inclusive group. Thereby abandoning – or at least relegating to
a lesser role – their former, separate, group affiliations.
Chapter Three: Feeling Versus Thinking In The Activation and Application of Stereotypes
• The history of intergroup relations is replete with evidence that intense emotions
guide the thoughts and actions of people in intergroup contexts. Affect plays a
major role in the way that information about social groups and group members is
processed. Affect influences the accessibility of constructs in memory and thus
may determine which of many social representations are primed, and which
characteristics in a given representation become activated. Affect may also
influence the extent to which the individual exerts information processing effort.
Affect also becomes associated with socialgroup labels through learning
processes. When affect and physiological arousal are associated with group
members, they will influence how information about the outgroup member is
interpreted, how the perceiver responds to the outgroup member, and whether the
perceiver tends to interact with members of the target group in the future.
Types of Intergroup Affect
• In one step toward specifying further the nature of affect in the intergroup context,
Bodenhausen (1993) has introduced the useful distinction between incidental
affect and integral affect. The former is defined as affect that is elicited by
situations unrelated to the intergroup context, and the latter is affect that is elicited
within the intergroup context and involves the stereotyped outgroup. Integral
affect can also arise merely from thinking about the outgroup.
• It is reasonable to suggest that individuals should have a rather stable feeling
toward the outgroup as a whole, which may be termed chronic outgroup affect. In addition, people can also have an affective reaction within an interaction with a
specific outgroup member, and this can be termed episodic outgroup affect.
Chronic Outgroup Affect
• Attitudes have traditionally been viewed as stable, enduring evaluations of an
attitude object. An attitude object is defined as anything about which one forms an
• Each time the attitude object is perceived or remembered, the evaluation will
trigger beliefs and other information associated with the object, as well as
enduring feelings associated with the attitude object.
• This process also holds when considering enduring intergroup attitudes. The
affect that one feels toward the outgroup, as a result of one’s enduring attitude
toward the outgroup can be termed chronic outgroup affect.
• Aversive racism: A type of racism in which the individual believes they are
nonprejudiced, but they still harbour negative feelings about the outgroup.
• Aversive racists, truly believe they are egalitarian and regard themselves as
nonprejudiced. However, they may also possess negative feelings about African
Americans. If they can do so in a subtle, easily rationalizable fashion, these
individuals may express negative attitudes toward African Americans yet feel no
affective consequences from doing so, thereby preserving the self from
threatening conflictrelated negative affect.
• People in the ingroup are (1) assumed to be more similar in beliefs, (2) evaluated
more favourably, (3) the recipients of more positive behaviour by the perceiver
than are members of outgroups, and (4) found to be more attractive by the
• According to Stephan and Stephan, the amount and conditions of intergroup
contact are crucial determinants in whether the individual will experience anxiety
prior to, or during, interactions with the outgroup. When there has been minimal
contact, and/or the contact has been characterized by conflict, the individual will
tend to feel more anxiety prior to or during the intergroup interaction.
• Anxiety may promote stereotyping of outgroup members by an affective
consistency process (cuing more negative cognitions) or through increased
reliance on expectancies (and schemas) regarding outgroup members as a result of
a reduction in cognitive capacity.
• There appears to be a solid empirical basis for the notion that the intergroup
context brings with it an emotional component for the interactants, and that
factors such as proximity and degree of personal contact in the intergroup context,
physical and personality characteristics of the outgroup members, and the cultural
similarity of the outgroup to the perceiver’s ethnic group tends to influence the
strength and valence of the emotion felt by each individual in the intergroup
interaction. This emotion, then, has various disruptive/biasing effects on the
individual’s perception of information, and it tends to increase reliance on the use
of stereotypes in processing information about the outgroup member in the
intergroup context. Episodic Outgroup Affect
• One’s intergrouprelated affect can also be a result of a specific interaction with a
specific individual member of the outgroup. This affect can also result from the
imagined interaction with an individual from the outgroup. This intergroup
related affect, or episodic outgroup affect, can be similar or different in valence
from one’s chronic outgroup affect toward the outgroup.
• Feelings that have no origination associated with the outgroup can be
characterized as incidental affect.
Influence of Positive Affect
• Positive affect appears to influence how people categorize others. In a wide range
of cognitive processing tasks, positive affect has been shown to reduce the extent
of systematic processing. People who are happy tend to process information less
analytically, they rely on heuristic cues, initial judgments, decisional shortcuts,
and other simplifying strategies; and they are more likely to use stereotypes in
their judgments of others.
• These researchers suggest that happy people are just not very motivated to expend
the cognitive effort required to avoid using stereotypes in intergroup judgment.
However, according to Bodenhausen et al. (1994), if such an effort were to have
an effect on the individual’s wellbeing, then the individual would likely not
Effect of Negative Affect
• Angry participants tended to make more stereotypic judgments, whereas
participants who were sad did not differ from neutralaffect participants in th