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Chapter 3

PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Social Distance, Impression Formation, Implicit-Association Test


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC12H3
Professor
Nick Hobson
Chapter
3

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Chapter 3 Measuring Prejudice, Stereotypes and Discrimination
DEFINING THE CONSTRUCTS
Prejudice
- A negative attitude toward a particular social group and its members.
- Three components: cognitive, affective, and behavioral.
o The first of these is equivalent to what we will define as a stereotype.
o The second is a purer affective or evaluative response to the group, void of any particular
semantic content.
o The third consists of behaviors and behavioral tendencies that discriminate against, or in favor
of, a group.
- Accordingly, we define prejudice as a valenced affective or evaluative response (positive or negative) to a
social category and its members.
- While prejudice defined in this way is purely affective and evaluative, it is typically accompanied by
stereotypic beliefs that serve either as the foundation for prejudice or as its justification.
- Additionally, prejudice may give rise to discriminatory behavior.
Stereotypes
- Category-based generalizations that link category members to typical attributes.
- Each stereotype connects typical members of a social category with distinctive traits.
- There is nothing in this definition that specifies the evaluative nature of the attributes associated with
category members.
- It may typically be the case that stereotypes about certain groups, for instance disliked outgroups, have a
strongly valenced character but researchers don’t assume this
Discrimination
- Behavior directed toward category members that is consequential for their outcomes, and that is directed
toward them not because of any particular deservingness or reciprocity, but simply because they happen
to be members of that category.
- This leaves open the possibility that behaviors, which some judge to be discriminatory, will not be seen in
that way by others.
- Targets of the discrimination may define some behaviors as having negative consequences while the
perpetrators of those behaviors may not.
- Additionally, perpetrators may see their behaviors as justified by the deservingness of the targets, while
the targets themselves may disagree.
- Thus, particularly for discrimination, definitions may depend on the attributions that a perceiver makes
for a given behavior.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
- The most common approach to measuring prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination has been to ask
respondents directly about their attitudes.
- Self-reporting measures have the obvious limitation that they yield accurate estimates only if the
respondents are both willing and able to report their sentiments.
- Changes in societal norms have made overt expression of bias unacceptable, and simple explicit measures
may be problematic because participants are not always fully aware of their own attitudes
o One counter strategy relies on explicit self-reports by offering response alternatives that frame
bias in socially-accepted terms or by ensuring anonymity.

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- Another strategy aims to conceal the purpose of the assessment and/or minimize participants’ ability to
control their responses.
- Computers to present stimuli very briefly and require participants to make quick responses, minimizing
both awareness of the experimental goals and the ability to respond strategically.
- Explicit measures
(a) awareness that prejudice, stereotypes, or discrimination are being assessed, and
(b) responses that can be controlled or modified by the respondent.
- Implicit measures do not share one or both of these characteristics.
- The distinction between explicit and implicit measures is not identical to the distinction between
controlled and automatic processes
- Social psychology has examined several characteristics that differentiate relatively automatic processes
from controlled processes
MEASURING PREJUDICE
Explicit measures of prejudice
Measures of global evaluation
- Measures aim to capture general evaluations of a group, without any specific semantic content.
- The most widely used measures are the Feeling Thermometer and the Social Distance Scale.
Feeling thermometer
- Respondents indicate their attitudes on a 0100 point scale.
- As suggested by its name, the thermometer involves a metaphor, conceptualizing feelings toward a given
group as temperature readings, ranging from ‘very cold, unfavorable feelings’ to ‘very warm, favorable
feelings.’
- Also, as a continuous 100-point scale, thermometers offer a large number of response alternatives and
accordingly show relatively high reliability
Social distance measures
- Presents seven statements, describing forms of contact with the target group that increase in social
intimacy.
- Respondents indicate their willingness to tolerate each form of contact.
Content measures
- In contrast to global measures of prejudice, content measures focus on respondents’ beliefs concerning a
particular group and its role in society, and thus reflect the cognitive underpinnings of a person’s group
evaluation.
- They measure agreement with beliefs associated with attitudes toward a given group.
- To assess prejudice toward Blacks, for example, many content-based measures exist which differ
considerably in their theoretical assumptions.
- Some target beliefs are thought to stem from general values.
- Others, like the Modern Racism Scale, assess beliefs that are seen as contemporary, socially sanctioned
expressions of anti-Black sentiment.
Modern racism scale (MRS)
- Originated from research on symbolic racism; though committed to equal rights, might portray Blacks as
violating traditional American values of individualism, work ethic, and discipline.
- Prejudice, theoretically, stems from the violation of those values rather than from a belief that Blacks are
inherently inferior.
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- Respondents indicate agreement with several belief statements, using a Likert scale response format,
which are collapsed to yield an overall index.
- MRS items refer to specific policies, leading to criticism that the scale measures political preferences
rather than prejudice
- MRS has used the scale not to test the theory of symbolic racism, but simply as a less reactive self-report
measure of racial prejudice
- MRS seems less sensitive to social desirability concerns than traditional racial prejudice measures
- Various studies have found the MRS to show construct validity and to predict relevant criteria
Social dominance orientation (SDO)
- It measures the predisposition to favor group-based hierarchies.
- According to the theory, this orientation should predict prejudice toward outgroups in general
- SDO coincides with prejudiced evaluations of many groups
- The SDO scale asks respondents to indicate their agreement with several statements, using a seven-point
Likert response format.
Strategic responding
- One concern with explicit measures is that respondents might misrepresent their true attitudes so as to
appear unprejudiced.
- 2 strategies to limit misrepresentation.
o The first involves minimizing incentives for socially desirable self-presentation by assuring
anonymity and confidentiality.
o A second strategy is to create a disincentive for socially desirable responding; ‘bogus pipeline’
aims to limit misrepresentation by convincing respondents that the researcher can discern their
true attitudes by means of an elaborate (but fake) physiological measurement apparatus.
Implicit measures of prejudice Implicit measures aim to assess prejudice even if people are otherwise unwilling
and/or unable to report it.
Response latency measures
- Implicit measures based on response latencies infer attitudes from the impact that a group related
stimulus has on the speed with which a person can make judgments.
- Priming measures and the Implicit Association Test (IAT).
Evaluative priming (EP) (affective priming)
- It is based on a paradigm in which two stimuli are presented in short succession on a computer screen, a
prime followed by a target.
- The participant’s task is to classify the target as quickly as possible based
- As a measure of prejudice, the procedure pairs group primes (e.g., a Black or a White face) with target
words of polarized valence (e.g., pleasant, awful), and assesses whether the prime facilitates responses to
positive targets and/or negative targets.
- EP attempts to capture the automatic activation of group attitudes, a reaction that is triggered relatively
passively, requiring neither the intent to evaluate the primes nor awareness of the stimulus or of the
evaluative process.
- Observed that responses in EP can be faked.
- To address this issue, ‘subliminal’ presentation may conceal the nature of the prime, and shortened
response windows can preclude strategic influences by enforcing rapid responses
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