c12.Chapter 2.docx

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18 Apr 2012
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Chapter 2
FORMATION OF STEREOTYPES
Categorization
- Stereotyping was once regarded as a sign of the moral deficiency of the stereotype, or even as an
indicator of repressed unconscious hostility however;
Found that the human brain seems to almost automatically classify or categorize similar
objects in the environment
- Most researchers now regard stereotyping as a natural consequence of cognition
Why We Categorize
- Because humans have a limited-capacity cognitive system that cannot simultaneously process all
the available information in our social environment
- We categorize on the basis of shared features, or even shared time and space
Types of Categorization
- We categorize based on race, gender and age these are the most immediate and obvious
features of an individual and yield information about useful distinctions in social behaviour
between those in different groups
- MACRAE et al. Suggests that the way the person categorizes a picture of an individual depends
on the perceiver’s motives, cognitions, and affect --- 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
Ingroups and Outgroups
- Ingroups: groups to which we belong
- Outgroups: groups to which we do not belong
- It appears that people tend to perceive and remember information in terms of race categories and
not in terms of the individual identity ex. Study recalling particular comments made by an
individual
- Individuals who are part of an outgroup are perceived to share similar characteristics, motives,
and other features however, when thinking about ingroups, we think that our groups comprise
unique individuals who happen to share one or two common features
Therefore, outgroup members are all alike, and ingroup members are different as
snowflakes
- Outgroup Homogeneity: blacks and white receive the same length of sentence
- Ingroup Bias (or favouritism): however, within each race, those with more “African” features
received significantly harsher sentences
- Two Major Goals of perceiving outgroups and ingroups as different:
We greatly simplify our social environment by categorizing others in that way
We enhance our self-concept by thinking that we do not belong to a homogeneous group
in which all members are the same
- When we favour our ingroups, we also attribute negative characteristics to outgroups --- this view
is not necessarily supported, favouring ingroups does not necessarily mean we dislike outgroups
- Exposure to members of a stereotyped outgroup can lead to either a more homogeneous (and
more stereotyped) or heterogeneous (and more positive) view of the outgroup depending on the
context
- Groups that have no meaningful basis for their membership, Minimal Groups, would exhibit the
same ingroup favouritism found in more meaningful groups (based on gender or race for ex)
Minimal groups are called minimal because they lack the usual features of group
structure
A coherent group structure, face-to-face-interaction, a set of norms for the group
members, interactions with other groups, and so forth
- Studies have shown that we would rather implicitly remember positive information about our
ingroups then negative information about outgroups
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