PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Cognitive Miser, Subtyping, Behaviorism

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31 Jan 2013
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PSYC12 Chapter 1 Introduction to the
study of Stereotyping & Prejudice
Humans have the tendency to form groups the roots to this serve evolutionary advantages
as groups tend to create order
Groups are not unique to humans, animals also form groups (survival benefits)
Psychologically groups also have a major component
o Group members tend to favour their own groups (ingroups) over groups which they
don’t belong to (outgroups)
o Minimal group assigning random people to group A and group B (simplest way to
demonstrate ingroup favouritism)
Negative feelings towards another group or members of another group prejudice
Believing certain characteristics associated to other groups or members of another group
Historically, overt expressions of racial prejudice and intergroup hatred has declined
dramatically, racial prejudice and stereotypes have by no means disappeared (implicit
Defining stereotypes
Lippmann’s “stereotype” – tendency of people to think of someone or something in similar
terms (based on a common feature shared by each). According to Lippmann stereotypes tell
us what social information in important to perceive and to disregard in our environment.
Likewise, much of our information regarding stereotypes comes from our culture of origin
People also viewed stereotypes as a negative, lazy way to perceive social groups
Gordon Allport the Nature of Prejudice prejudice is an exaggerated belief associated
with a category
All in all, originally people thought stereotypes as something negative, and moved to
something more neutral
The social-cognitive definition an automatic process of categorization, that is inherent in
human nature and how they perceive and think about the world
Viewed prejudice as a type of a schema a cognitive structure that represents knowledge
about a concept or type of stimulus, including its attributes and the relations among those
The definition of stereotype we will use is that provided by Ashmore and Del Boca a set
of beliefs about the personal attributes of a group of people
Cultural stereotype shared or community-wide patterns of believe
Individual stereotype beliefs held by an individual about the characteristics of a group
(the focus of most contemporary researchers)
Some believe that the nature of stereotype is that it is an attitude a general evaluation of
some object. Likewise, attitudes have the ABC components, and most people agree that
stereotype refers to the cognitive component of attitudes.
Prejudice affective component of attitude
Discrimination behavioural component of attitude, negative behaviour directed towards
an individual based on their membership in a group
The definition of stereotype does not have an affective valence (positive/negative
Defining prejudice
Literally means a prejudgement about something. However, it can also suggest evaluation
towards a stimulus (positive or negative). By evaluation it makes it seem like prejudice is an
attitude (controversial issue)
Prejudice has also been known as negative affect - Gordon Allport
Prejudice was also seen as an emotion, but the complexity of prejudice and the inability to
define emotion caused this notion to be dismissed
If we take the notion that prejudice is an attitude, that would mean that prejudice also has
the ABC components of attitude but it should be remembered that prejudice doesn’t
always mean negative, there are also such things as positive prejudices (but our focus is
more on the negative)
o Affective anger
o Cognitive beliefs linking hostility to the outgroup
o Behavioural avoidant or hostile
Some researchers also argue that it is not that prejudice is negative emotions, rather it is
lack of positive emotions (emergence of positive psychology)
Research has also shown that intergroup interaction therefore is most dependent on “how
good people feel, not how well they think of group members” (hinting back to Freud’s
aggression-frustration theory)
Research also regards prejudice as attitude-in-context prejudice is not inflexible, rather it
depends on the match between social role and stereotype power roles from the lecture
Appraisal a set of cognitions that are attached to a specific emotion.
Self-categorization theory the notion that people view themselves as members of a social
category or group, therefore, when you interact with someone with a different category
your own self-category comes into awareness
Subtyping 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 face of what would otherwise be a stereotype-disconfirming
The vast definitions of prejudice can be divided into 4 basic components
o Occurs between groups
o Involves an evaluation (positive or negative) of a group
o Is a biased perception of a group
o Is based on the real or imagined characteristics of the group
Prejudice a biased evaluation of a group, based on real or imagined characteristics of the
group members
The link between stereotyping and prejudice
Balance theory one’s attitudes, behaviour and evaluation (affect) toward another should
be cognitively consistent, or else on experiences a state of “imbalance” when is an aversive
state of cognitive arousal or cognitive dissonance (bad faith, being hypocritical)
Fishbein and Ajzen’s theory of reasoned action – the relationship between an attitude and a
subsequent attitude-relevant behaviour is much stronger if one aggregates multiple
behaviours into a single behaviour measure
All in all the research supports the statement that the link between stereotype and
prejudice is strongly related
Early perspectives in stereotyping research
Originally researchers were concerned with understanding and cataloguing the content of
stereotypes Katz and Braly, 1933 was the first empirical study of stereotype
Attitude research is important because it is an important predictor of subsequent behaviour
Individual differences that can cause prejudice behaviour in some and not others includes:
o Degree to which a person is persuaded (easily persuade = more prejudice)
o Persuasion is more when the person is less educated, distracted and lower in self-
o Learning theory the role of the environment, vicarious learning, positive/negative
o If you feel bad about yourself, for the sake of social approval and self-esteem you
will act prejudiced