PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Illusory Correlation, In-Group Favoritism, Authoritarianism

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Published on 14 Apr 2013
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UTSC
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Psychology
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PSYC12H3
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PSYC12- Chapter 2: Origin and Maintenance of Stereotypes and Prejudice
The formation of stereotypes
The brain automatically categorizes similar objects in the environment
Why do we categorize?
o All humans have a limited-capacity cognitive system that cannot simultaneously process
all the available information in our social environment
o Categorize people and objects on the basis of shared features, time and space
o Example: “blonds have more fun”
Types of categorization:
Classify people along broad categories: basic or primitive categories
o Race
o Age
o Gender
Bargh 1989- stereotypes are not automatically activated for all stimuli
o Upon perceiving category words ( Hispanic, woman, accountant) we automatically think
of associated stereotypes doe that category, but when seeing a member of one of those
groups we do not automatically think of all the stereotypes for the groups
In-groups and Out-groups
In-group: any group to which one believes he or she belongs
In-group 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 ingroups than to
outgroups
o Bias can affect criminal sentencing
o Blair, Judd and Chapleau (2004)
White and blacks who have the same criminal histories received the same
sentences.
However, within each race those with more ‘African’ features received
significantly harsher sentences
Hamilton and Troler (1986)
o Perceiving outgroups as all alike and our ingroups as diverse helps us satisfy two goals:
Greatly simplify our social environment by categorizing others in that way
Enhance our self-concept by thinking that we do not belong to a homogeneous,
cookie-cutter 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 in-group members
Outgroup: any group to which a person does not belong
Outgroup homogeneity: The belief that members of outgroups are more similar to each other
than are members of one’s ingroups (“they all look alike”)
Minimal groups: a group formed on the basis of some ( sometimes trivial criteria , and which are
otherwise devoid of the normal aspects of group life, such as face-to-face interaction, group
norms, interactions with other groups and a group structure
Social Learning
There is a definite link between the prejudice attitude of parents to their children
Value transmission in families
o Parents are a first and powerful source of information about the world-> children are
sternly influenced from this information
o In the early stages of life (before age 10) children are essentially parroting the out-group
sentiments of their parents
o Biggest factor that influences the degree of parent and child intergroup attitude
similarity was whether the parents exhibited Right-Wing Authoritarianism
o High RWA parents were attitudinally similar to their parents
Implicit theories
Implicit theories: our individual beliefs about the nature of personality and the behaviours,
attitudes and vales associated with certain types of individuals
o Once we have categorized someone as having a certain characteristic, we are more
likely to assume that that person has a whole host of related characteristics
Entity theorists- believe that one’s personality traits are fixed and cannot be changed
o Thus because traits are fixed they are stable indicators of behaviour and behaviour is
consistent
Incremental theorists- believe that one’s personality traits are flexible and can be modified
How and Why Stereotypes are maintained
Subcategories: special separate cognitive categories for deviant (stereotype-disconfirming)
members of a stereotyped out-group, so that a stereotype can remain intact
o This is done because the stereotype consistent member of the stereotyped group is
seen as unrepresentative of the whole group, so stereotypes that apply to the group do
not appear to apply to the particular group member
o Also enables us to maintain our stereotypes for the group in the face of stereotype-
disconfirming evidence
Illusory Correlations
Illusory correlation: The overestimation of the association between two variables that are either
related weakly or not at all
o Leads to the formation and maintenance of stereotypes
o Also may form as a result of the influence of one’s existing stereotypes of others
o Motivation to perceive order and predictability enhances the likelihood of forming illusory
correlations (Lieberman 1999)
Predicted that the mortality-salient condition when presented with ambiguous
information, should be more likely to form illusory correlations between
negative behaviours and the minority group
Origins of Prejudice
Social-identity theory: the need for positive self-esteem motivates individuals to perceive people
in the environment in terms of ingroups and outgroups
o People can attain positive self-esteem either by their own accomplishments or by
affiliating with high-status groups
o Tajfel and Turner
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
People naturally partition their social environment into “us” and “them”
groupings
People are motivated to perceive their own groups as superior to other groups
on important valued dimensions
This creates a bias in favor of their own group, and against outgroups
Theory suggests that one way to increase one’s positive feeling about one’s in-
group is to derogate ( evaluate negatively)outgroups
Optimal-distinctiveness theory: suggests that our social motives are governed by alternating
tension between our need to be our own unique person and our need to belong to groups. We
are therefore motivated to find and affiliate with groups that can help provide these opposing
needs
o Brewer (1991)
It is aversive to us to be too extreme our needs for uniqueness and
belongingness
This theory predicts that we will feel isolated and alone if we feel strong
uniqueness at the expense of belongingness
Scapegoat theory: when an individual becomes thwarted from a particular goal, they may feel
anger, irritation or disappointment
o This anger is similar to the negative affect we feel toward disliked groups, and
eventually the out-group is blamed for the in-group’s failure to attain their goal, and the
in-group feels prejudice toward the out-group

Document Summary

Psyc12- chapter 2: origin and maintenance of stereotypes and prejudice. The brain automatically categorizes similar objects in the environment. Classify people along broad categories: basic or primitive categories: race, age, gender. In-group: any group to which one believes he or she belongs. White and blacks who have the same criminal histories received the same sentences. However, within each race those with more african" features received significantly harsher sentences. Hamilton and troler (1986: perceiving outgroups as all alike and our ingroups as diverse helps us satisfy two goals: Greatly simplify our social environment by categorizing others in that way. Enhance our self-concept by thinking that we do not belong to a homogeneous, cookie-cutter type of group in which all members are similar in many dimensions. Rather we attribute great individuality and a host of other positive. Outgroup: any group to which a person does not belong attributes to our in-group members.