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Chapter 11

PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 11: Realistic Conflict Theory, Minimal Group Paradigm, Symbolic Racism

Course Code
PSYC 215
Mark Baldwin

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Chapter 11 summary
Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination
Stereotyping much less obvious today, but still prevalent
E.g., Christopher Columbus viewing natives as potential slaves vs.
storeowners serving white people before black people today
Theoretical perspectives
There will never likely be a single, comprehensive theory of stereotyping, prejudice,
or discrimination
These all have many various causes
Three perspectives (not sharply defined categories):
Economic perspective: identifies the roots of much intergroup hostility in
competing interests that can set groups apart from one another
Motivational perspective: emphasizes the psychological needs that lead to
intergroup conflict
Cognitive perspective: traces the origin of stereotyping to the same cognitive
processes that enable people to categorize, say, items of furniture into
distinct classes of chairs, couches, and tables.
Takes into account frequent conflict between people’s consciously
held beliefs and values and their quick, reflexive reactions to
members of specific racial, ethnic, occupational, sexual orientation, or
other demographic groups.
The three elements influence on another
One thing can be part of more than one of these perspectives
Characterizing intergroup bias
Stereotype: the belief that certain attributes are characteristics of members of a
particular group
Can be positive or negative, true or false
Thinking about a person not as an individual but as a member of a group
Projecting what you think you know about a group onto one particular
Prejudice: a negative attitude or affective response toward a group and its
individual members
Discrimination: unfair treatment of individuals based on their membership in a
particular group
The three often go together, but not necessarily
Modern racism
Some types of discrimination that were once common are now frowned upon and
others are frowned upon in society
Some people reactions to others are unconscious and automatic, and these
responses may differ greatly form their more thoughtful beliefs and attitudes
Shift in theoretical approaches is particularly noteworthy with respect to race
relations in the US
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Modern racism: prejudice directed at racial groups that exists alongside the
rejection of explicitly racist beliefs
Many people hold strong egalitarian values (leads them to rejecting prejudice and
discrimination), but still harbor unacknowledged negative feelings toward minority
Stem from ingroup favoritism and a desire to defend the status quo
Behavior depends on the situation/context
People will act in a discriminatory/prejudicial manner only if this behavior
can be “disguised”
Gaertner & Dovidio, 1977: participants in a position to help either white or black
person in need of medical assistance. If participants thought they were the only one
available to help, they would help the black person more often than the white
person. If other people were present and they could use the excuse “I thought
someone else with more expertise would intervene”, they helped the black person
much less often than the white person.
Some modernly racist people insist that discrimination against black people is no
longer a problem in the US
Hodson, Dovidio, & Gaertner, 2002: white participants evaluated black and white
applicants to college. When participants excelled in all pertinent dimensions (e.g.,
SAT scores and high school grades) or were below average in these dimensions,
they rated black people and white people the same. When they excelled in some
dimensions (e.g., SAT scores) and were below average in others (e.g., GPA),
prejudiced participants discriminated towards black applicants. In this situation
they could mask their behavior.
Benevolent racism and sexism
Ambivalent sexism: can contain positive and negative features (e.g., chivalrous
sexism and hostile sexism)
Favorable prejudice enables the holder to deny any prejudice
Inhibit progress towards equality
Those with ambivalent attitudes tend to act positively towards members of
outgroups only if they fulfill their idealized image of what such people should be like
Those who deviate tend to be treated with hostility
Dardenne, Dumont & Bolllier, 2007: women treated in a paternalistic manner
performed less well on an IQ test because of the self-doubts aroused by the
treatment they received.
Measuring attitudes about groups
Many attitude scales have been developed
Attitudes towards Blacks Scale
Modern Racism Scale
Internal motivation to respond without prejudice Scale
Sexual prejudice scale
Not always reliable because people may not express what they really feel since they
know it’s frowned upon to discriminate
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Proper comparison: sexism can be confused for nameism, for example in essay
Artifact: spurious research result arising from a faulty method of investigation
Implicit Association Test (IAT—more reliable): a technique for revealing
nonconscious attitudes toward different stimuli, particularly groups of people.
Respondent presses key with left hand or right hand, examples seen in class
Respondents are faster to press the same key for categories that they
associate to one another (e.g., women and weakness) rather than categories
that they do not associate to one another (e.g., men and weakness)
Researchers make assumptions based on the rapidity of the respondent’s
Are these respondents predictive of real-life behavior?
Phelps et al., 2000: participants viewed black and white faces and their brain images
were recorded. IAT responses were correlated with heightened neural activity in
the amygdala (a brain center associated with fear and emotional learning) in
response to black faces.
IAT results predict discrepancy between how much participants talk to white vs.
black people, how often they smile at white vs. black people, and the number of
speech error and hesitations they exhibited when interacting with white vs. black
people (McConnell & Leibold, 2001).
Priming: the presentation of information designated to activate a concept (such as a
stereotype) and hence make it accessible. A prime is the stimulus presented to
activate the concept in question.
When people are primed with images of black people, if they are negatively
stereotyped they will recognize negative words faster (e.g., “dangerous”)
They may not be aware of these unconscious attitudes
The economic perspective
Groups developed prejudices about each other and discriminate against one another
when they compete for material resources.
Realistic group conflict theory: at theory that group conflict, prejudice, and
discrimination are likely to arise over competition between groups for limited
Theory predicts that prejudice and discrimination should arise under
conditions of economic difficulty (recession, high unemployment, etc.)
Also predicts tat prejudice and discrimination are highest among groups that
stand to lose the most form another group’s economic advance (e.g., loss of
white privilege after abolition of slavery)
Ethnocentrism: glorifying one’s own group while vilifying other groups.
E.g., in basketball, players judge the tactics of opponents but glorify
these tactics when the opponent becomes a teammate.
People in the outgroup are often thought of in stereotyped ways are
treated in manner normally forbidden by one’s moral code
Loyalty in the ingroup intensifies (e.g., 9/11 brought Americans
together, regardless of their race and ethnicity because the group in
question was “Americans” they were not separated by race)
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