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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Notes- Origin and Maintenance of Stereotypes and Prejudice


Course Code
Michael Inzlicht

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Origin and Maintenance of Stereotypes and Prejudice
Cognitive psychologists found that the human brain seems to almost
automatically classify or categorize similar objects in the environment.
This led prejudice researchers to change their conceptualization of the
nature of stereotyping.
Stereotypes were no longer regarded as the product of lazy thinking by the
uneducated or those with moral deficiencies.
Stereotypes as a natural consequence of cognition.
Humans have a limited capacity cognitive system that cannot simultaneously
process all the available information in our social environment. Because we
have a need to understand and even anticipate the behaviour of others,
humans have developed ways around our limited cognitive system. THUS,
We also have the tendency to group characteristics with certain shared
features. Like blondes have more fun.
Race, gender, age: major ways we first categorize someone because these
are the most immediate and obvious features of an individual, and because
these categorizes yield much information about useful distinctions in social
behaviour between those in different groups. (BASIC/PRIMITIVE
Basic categories are used so often in perceiving people that they are central
points around which stereotypes develop.
In MILLISECONDS, evoke the associated cognitions, beliefs, and feelings one
has for that group.
Others have suggested that stereotypes are not automatically activated for
all stimuli.
Macrae and his colleagues suggest that what the person categorizes a
picture of an individual depends on the perceivers motives, cognitions, and

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Only when the perceiver wants to quickly evaluate the target in the picture
do stereotypes become activated as a useful means of arriving at an attitude
toward the target.
How you partition people in these groups depends on your current, salient
motives, fears, goals, and expectations. (PAGE 29)
Individuals who are part of an out-group are perceived to share similar
characteristics, motives and other features. However, when it comes to our
own in-groups, we like to think that our groups comprise unique individuals
who happen to share one or two common features (e.g. ones occupation)
Out-group homogeneity
In-group bias (favouritism)
Perceiving out-group’s as all alike, and our in-groups as diverse helps us
satisfy two major goals: we greatly simplify our social environment by
categorizing others in that way, and we enhance our self concept by thinking
that we do not belong to a homogenous, cookie cutter type of group in which
all members are similar in many dimensions.
In favouring our in-groups, we also tend to put down or attribute negative
characteristics to out groups.
However, research has shown that the assumption that we derogate out
groups is not necessarily supported.
The dimension on which people are viewed as in-group or out-group
members does not need to be a meaningful one (e.g. racial, political) in
order for in-group and out-group biases to occur.
Remember minimal groups (not the usual group structure)
We rather implicitly remember positive information about our in-groups and
negative information about out groups. It becomes automatic early in life.
Boldry and Kashy: indicated that out-group homogeneity tends to be strong
but that in-group favouritism is not as universal we thought. Their data
suggest that group status moderates the tendency to engage in in-group
favouritism, such that low status groups tend to show out-group favouritism
and high status groups showed in-group favouritism only on one of several
By age 5 children show distinct recognition of, and preferences for, some
groups over others, (including race and gender preferences).

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Allport suggests that there is a definite link btwn the prejudiced attitudes of
parents and the development of such attitudes in their children.
Allport and authoritarianism.
“Caught from the parent” when kids observe.
Childhood intergroup Contact
Results indicated that people who had more interracial contact showed the
least amount of stereotyping and were significantly less prejudiced than
those who were rather isolated from Blacks when they were children.
Collect no data on age of first interracial contact
The questions that make up the index of contact do not really assess the
specific nature of the contact between the respondent and Blacks.
Is casual contact enough to help children form positive intergroup attitudes
toward Blacks or is it important to have friends, teachers etc.
The questions that make up the index of contact only really assess the
potential for contact, not necessarily actual contact.
Value Transmission in Families.
Are some people born prejudiced toward different groups, or is prejudice
Much evidence suggests that racial attitudes are not inborn, and neither is
the case that race does not influence a child’s perception of the world until
years later.
These is little difference btwn the racial attitudes of 6th graders and those of
high schools students.
So children clearly learn prejudiced attitudes and stereotypes about others.
Parents and family members//direct learning or “caught”
Influence of Stereotypes on Cognition in Children
Majority-group children held more positive attitudes toward their own group
and more negative attitudes toward out groups
Minority-group members also held more positive views of the majority group
than of even their own in-group.
Children from stigmatized groups are ware of stereotypes about their group
from a very young age and that they tend to show effects of the stereotype
threat on stereotype-relevant tasks that is, their anxiety about confirming
poor stereotyping performance on the task impedes their performance.
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