PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Social Desirability Bias, Group Conflict, Conventionalism

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Published on 1 Feb 2013
Chapter 4 The Prejudiced Personality: Are Some People More Likely To Feel Prejudice?
1) Psychodynamic Perspectives
a) Authoritarianism
i) Authoritarians rigid personality characterized by categorical thinking, submissiveness to
authority, and adherence to middle-class values. These individuals tend to dislike anyone
who is different from themselves and thus tend to have stereotypes and prejudice toward
many groups (Adorno)
ii) They tend to grow up in homes in which the parents were strict disciplinarians
iii) An authoritarian’s parents open use harsh disciplines to keep the children from misbehaving
iv) They tend to think in ‘either-or’, all-or-nothing thinking terms
v) Authoritarians hate deviant impulses (fear, aggression, sex)
vi) The authoritarian person does not believe he has these negative qualities, but these
characteristics are attributed to the various minority groups
b) Character-Conditioned Prejudice
i) Allport discussed the prejudiced personality in psychodynamic terms just like Adorno
ii) Prejudiced personality emerged out of a “crippled” ego. This person feels threatened,
insecure, and fearful of everything
iii) Prejudice is used as a way to overcome these insecurities, by projecting these negative
qualities onto others
iv) People who are prejudiced tend to repress their fears and insecurities to avoid facing
anxieties and shortcomings
v) Prejudiced people uses dichotomization (black-or-white thinking)
c) Problems with the Psychodynamic Approach
i) There are 4 main reasons for the decline in the psychodynamic approach:
(1) Researchers became more critical of its approach to personality. Essentially, the F scale
(fascism scale) and the world-mindedness scale (measures one’s attitudes toward and
acceptance of people from other countries) are inversely related, i.e., they measure the
same thing
(a) Martin suggests that prejudice may be a result of an intolerant personality
(b) These people would score low on sympathy and trust, and high on conservatism
(c) The important point about both the world-mindedness and the tolerant-personality
approaches is that each measures the same constellation of personality c
characteristics as the Adorno study, but they do so without assuming the
psychodynamic process that were supposed to create the authoritarian personality
(2) Methodological and other conceptual problems with the authoritarian personality
caused many researchers to conclude that the approach was not up to scientific
(3) The theory only explained the presence of prejudice in a small subset of the population
and did not explain why many people who did not have an authoritarian personality did
show prejudice toward at least one other group
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(a) It also could not account for why prejudice was higher in one region (e.g., south)
than the north
(4) The authoritarian-personality perspective suggests that there is little hope of changing
an authoritarian individual to be more accepting of others
d) Right-Wing Authoritarianism
i) In 1994, Altemeyer wrote a paper called the “a case study in overcompensation”
ii) He found that three of Adorno’s nine related traits seemed to show a strong relationship
with each other. Altemeyer called this “attitudinal clusters”. They are explained below:
(1) Authoritarian submission indicates a strong degree of submission to perceived
legitimate authorities in one’s society
(2) Authoritarian aggression a general aggression and hostility directed toward outgroups,
that is viewed as acceptable by recognized authorities
(3) Conventionalism a strong adherence to social norms and traditions that are perceived
as sanctioned by recognized authorities
iii) Together, they are called the Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) personality style in which
the individual tends to be politically conservative, more punitive toward criminals, more
likely to endorse orthodox religious views, and very prejudiced toward outgroups
(1) It is also used to denote the difference from Adorno’s psychodynamic authoritarianism
iv) High RWA tends to be politically conservative, while low RWA tends to be politically liberal
v) Altemeyer, using RWA, have found that people with high RWA tends to be prejudiced
toward virtually everyone. He thus calls them “equal-opportunity bigots”
vi) RWA individuals are both fearful and self-righteous
vii) RWA individuals do not get the experience of socializing with people with different attitudes
from their own in their teen years, which is why it is hard to change the rigid attitudes and
prejudices of high-RWA individuals later on
e) Religion
i) There is a positive correlation between being more religious and having less tolerance and
more stereotyped cognitions about others
ii) The reason may be that with greater adherence to strict tenets of religious scripture comes
an increase in the tendency to think in rigid, either-or terms. This will in turn increase the
likelihood that one will rely on heuristics
iii) Committed versus Consensual Religiosity
(1) Other research have found that there is little correlation between religion and prejudice
(2) People who support this view believe that the measures of religiosity used by previous
researchers were too simplistic
(3) Allen classified churchgoers as having either “committed” or “consensual” religious
(a) Committed religious orientation one that allows an individual to hold a wide range
of belief categories through which one can evaluate the world. Committed
individuals show a greater tolerance for diversity, and they are more likely to
thoughtfully consider different ideas, opinions, and beliefs
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