Prejudice and Stereotyping
- An attitude
- Ex. If I am prejudice against native peoples, then that means I dislike natives
as a whole.
- Made up of three components:
1) Affect or Emotion- representing the type of emotion linked with an
attitude ( ex. Warms, anger)
2) Cognitive- involving the beliefs or thoughts (cognition) that make up
3) Behavioural- relating to one’s actions-people don’t simply hold
attitudes, they usually act on them as well.
Prejudice: Affective Component
- prejudice refers to the general attitude structure and its affective (emotional)
- Can involve either negative or positive affect. Ex. --> you could be prejudiced
against or in favor of Torontonians. In one case, your emotional reaction is
negative: When a person is introduced to you as “Mike from Toronto,” you
will expect him to act in a certain way that you associate with “those snobbish
Torontonians.” Conversely, if your emotional reaction is positive, you will be
delighted to meet another one of those “sophisticated, cosmopolitan
- Prejudice consequently refers to as a hostile or negative attitude toward people
in a distinguishable group, based solely on their membership in that group.
Ex. If I am prejudice against native peoples, then that means I dislike natives
as a whole.
Stereotypes: The Cognitive components
- a generalization about a group f people in which identical characteristics are
assigned to virtually all members of the group, regardless of actual variation
among the members. Once formed, stereotypes are resistant to change on the
basis of new information.
- Gordon All port was thing of stereotyping as “the law of least effort”. The
world is just too complicated for us to have a highly differentiated attitude
about everything. Instead we maximize our cognitive time and energy by
developing elegant, accurate attitudes about some topics, while relying on
simple sketchy beliefs about others. Discrimination: The Behavioural Component
- Unjustified negative or harmful action toward a member of a group, simply
because of his or her member in that group.
- Ex if you’re a police officer and you have a stereotypic belief that black
people are more violent than white people; this might affect your behaviour
toward a specific black man you are trying to arrest.
What Causes Prejudice?
- Prejudice might be built in, as part of our biological survival mechanism
inducing us to favor our own family, tribe, or race, and to express hostility
- Our tendency to categorize and group information together, to form schemas
and to use these to interpret new or unusual information, to reply on
potentially inaccurate heuristics (shortcuts in mental reasoning), and to depend
on what are often faulty memory processes-al of these aspects of social
cognition can leads us to form negative stereotypes and to apply them in a
- The creation of groupsputting some people in one group based on certain
characteristics and others in another group based on their different
characteristics. This is the underlying theme of human social cognition.
- In group members the tendency to evaluate in-group members more
positively than out-group members. People tend to think negatively towards
out-group members and tend to like in-group members.
- The tendency to discriminate against the out-group is even stronger when
people have chosen their group rather than been randomly assigned to it.
- Two reasons why we have the tendency to favour the in-group and
discriminate against the out-group
1) Belonging to a group gives us a social identity
People gain social identity benefits from dividing the world into
“us” and “them”.
2) Having a social identity contributes to feelings of self-esteem.
It gives us a self-esteem boost if they believe that their group is
superior and that other groups are inferior.
When our self-esteem is threatened, we are especially likely to
denigrate the out-group as a means of restoring feelings of self-
- another consequence of social categorization
- The perception that those in the out-group are more similar (homogeneous) to
each other than they really are, as well as more similar than the members of
the in-group are to each other. We can minimize such effects by changing the people’s perceptions of “us” and “them”.
1) One approach is to change the people’s perceptions of “us” and “them” by
either promoting a common identity or by emphasizing the super ordinate
groups to which in-group and out-group members belong. Prejudice and
discrimination can be reduced when people’s focus shifts from membership in
their specific in-group to a broader group that includes members of the out-
2) Provide with an alternative route to self-esteem, so they won’t have to step on
other to be on top. There is evidence that prejudice is diminished when
groups share a common identity or goal.
-our attitudes toward members of another group are determined not only be our
stereotype of that group but also by our perception of that group’s stereotype of “us”.
Devine’s theory of a Two-Step Model of Cognitive Processing:
1) The automatic processing- bring up information automatically-in this case,
stereotypes. It occurs whenever an appropriate stimulus is encountered, either a
member of a stereotypical group or contact with a stereotypical statement, causing
the stereotypes for that group to be accessed from memory. Automatic processing
occurs without your awareness. You don’t purposely think of these thoughts,
they just happen or is triggered by the presence of the stimulus.
2) The controlled (or conscious) processing- can refute or ignore the stereotypes.
They tend to suppress or override stereotypes. It occurs with your awareness as
when you choose to disregard or ignore the stereotyped information that has been
brought to mind. Those of us who want to be non-prejudiced are less likely to
activate negative stereotypes automatically when we encounter stereotype-
-Another factor that determines whether we automatically activate stereotypes is whether
we will get a self-esteem boost by doing so. Example- Michael received a bad mark on
his term paper by his professor who was Black. Michael’s stereotype of black people is
they are not very competent. Hence this would allow him to dismiss the criticism of his
work as stemming from an incompetent source (the black professor) with the result that
he will not feel as bad about his negative evaluation. So we pick and choose when to
activate our stereotype and which stereotypes to activate or inhibit.
IF we can salvage our self-esteem by activating negative stereotypes about a group,
we will do so. However, if a negative stereotype will interfere with a self-esteem boost
(ex. When we are praised by a member of a stereotyped group), we simply push that
stereotype out of our minds.
- A person’s beliefs regarding the stereotype that out-group members hold
about their own group. - Our level of prejudice depends not solely on your stereotype of a particular
group but also on whether we think members of that group have a positive or
negative stereotype of us.
-Factors such as emotion, symbolic beliefs and behaviour are also determinants of our
level of prejudice-even more important that our stereotype of that group.
- You can reduce prejudice by changing people’s emotions by designing interventions
that will speak to people’s hearts rather than to their heads.
-Research has suggested that mood affects prejudice, people in a good mood feel more
favourably toward other racial or ethnic groups.
- The human tendency to make attributions for people’s behaviour can also
serve to perpetuate stereotyping and prejudice.
- It is our nature to make internal (dispositional) attribution (that a person’s
behaviour is due to his or her personality, and not the situation or the person’s
Ultimate Attribution Error
- Our tendency to make dispositional attributions about an entire group of
- Ex when a white child performed well, both Native and white participants
made dispositional attributions for the child’s performance (ex. being smart);
when a white child performed poorly, both native and white participants made
external attributions (ex. Bad luck).
- Opposite occurred when observing a Native child-good performance was
attributed to external factors (ex. Luck, or easy task) and poor performance
was attributed to internal factors (ex. Not being smart).
- We explain the behaviour of out-group members in a way that perpetuates our
stereotypes of them, thereby fostering prejudice.
-One of the most obvious sources of conflict and prejudice is competition-for scare
resources, political power, and social status.
Realistic Conflict Theory
- The theory that limited resources lead to conflict between groups and result in
increased prejudice and discrimination.
- Conflict and prejudice are most likely to result when we perceive that our
group may miss out on a limited resource and when we perceive that another
group (an out-group) is competing with us for that resource. Thus prejud