PSYC12H3 Chapter 3: Nelson
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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
social-group 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
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 attitude.
• 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.
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• 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 conflict-
related 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 perceiver.
• 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
• 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 intergroup-related 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
Influence of Positive Affect
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