PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5.1: Mahzarin Banaji, Critical Role, Eugenius Warming
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Nations' Income Inequality Predicts Ambivalence in Stereotype Content: How Societies Mind the Gap
- Income inequality undermines societies: the more inequality, the more health problems, social tensions, and
the lower social mobility, trust, life expectancy.
- Stereotype Content Model (SCM) argues that ambivalence―perceiving many groups as either warm or
competent, but not both―may help maintain socio-economic disparities.
- The association between stereotype ambivalence and income inequality in 37 cross-national samples
investigates how groups’ overall warmth-competence, status-competence, and competition-warmth
correlations vary across societies, and whether these variations associate with a measure of income inequality
- More unequal societies do report more ambivalent stereotypes, while more equal ones dislike competitive
groups and do not necessarily respect them as competent.
- Unequal societies may need ambivalence for system stability: income inequality compensates groups with
partially positive social images.
- What seems to matter the most in developed nations is the level of inequality in society, namely, the size of
- The more inequality, the more health problems, social tensions, and the lower life expectancy, social mobility,
education, trust, happiness and well-being
- If both history and recent events argue in favor of people’s need for justice and therefore for fighting against
inequality, on the other hand, both history and recent events show the existence of a perplexing degree of
acquiescence that contributes to the maintenance of unequal systems.
- Certainly, collective actions have played a critical role in reducing inequality.
- Social psychologists Jost and Banaji (1994) explain the tendency to maintain what has been, by arguing that
individuals are inclined to rationalize the status quo, thus perceiving the existing social arrangements that affect
them as fair, legitimate, and justified.
- The stereotype content model suggests that depicting societal groups in ambivalent ways―such as fortunate in
one sphere while unfortunate in another―may mask and help to maintain socio-economic disparities.
- Using the SCM, the present work begins to investigate the relationship between ambivalent societal
stereotypes and income inequality across nations, hypothesizing that the more a society is unequal, the more
ambivalence appears as a rational buffer that helps to conceal inequality and maintain the system
Ambivalence and the SCM
- Stereotypes contribute to the maintenance of the system ―explaining or justifying a variety of social actions
- More recently, ambivalent stereotypes especially appear to serve this function, because they paint both
advantaged and disadvantaged groups as possessing distinctive but counterbalanced strengths and
weaknesses, as if every class gets its share, leading people to perceive society as fair
- Underlying ambivalent stereotypes, favorable and unfavorable biases co-exist, beyond outgroup antipathy
- SCM innovates by looking at various stereotypes simultaneously and from society’s perspective, as shared,
cultural, public images.
- Not only are many societal stereotypes ambivalent, combining both hostile and favorable beliefs about a group,
but also warmth and competence are the two basic dimensions capturing cultural contents.
- Ambivalent combinations of C and W also emerge in compensation-hypothesis studies, revealing trade-offs of
competence and warmth when people rate individuals or groups in a comparative context.
- A compensatory process occurs when judging more positively on one-dimension offsets another: participants
tried to ―rectify this disparity [on one dimension] by asserting that the situation must be reversed on the other
dimension of social judgment, but only on competence and warmth
- According to the SCM, competence and warmth judgments respectively stem from perceived socio-economic
status (high-low) and perceived interdependence (cooperative-competitive).
- High-status, cooperative groups seem both competent and warm, a univalent and positive stereotype;
- Low-status, competitive groups receive univalent but negative stereotypes, both cold and incompetent.
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