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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Psychology of Prejudice

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Michael Inzlicht

Chapter 4 – The Prejudiced Personality: Are Some People More Likely To Feel Prejudice? 1) Psychodynamic Perspectives a) Authoritarianism i) Authoritarians – rigid personality characterized by categorical thinking, submissiveness to authority, and adherence to middle-class values. These individuals tend to dislike anyone who is different from themselves and thus tend to have stereotypes and prejudice toward many groups (Adorno) ii) They tend to grow up in homes in which the parents were strict disciplinarians iii) An authoritarian’s parents open use harsh disciplines to keep the children from misbehaving iv) They tend to think in ‘either-or’, all-or-nothing thinking terms v) Authoritarians hate deviant impulses (fear, aggression, sex) vi) The authoritarian person does not believe he has these negative qualities, but these characteristics are attributed to the various minority groups b) Character-Conditioned Prejudice i) Allport discussed the prejudiced personality in psychodynamic terms just like Adorno ii) Prejudiced personality emerged out of a “crippled” ego. This person feels threatened, insecure, and fearful of everything iii) Prejudice is used as a way to overcome these insecurities, by projecting these negative qualities onto others iv) People who are prejudiced tend to repress their fears and insecurities to avoid facing anxieties and shortcomings v) Prejudiced people uses dichotomization (black-or-white thinking) c) Problems with the Psychodynamic Approach i) There are 4 main reasons for the decline in the psychodynamic approach: (1) Researchers became more critical of its approach to personality. Essentially, the F scale (fascism scale) and the world-mindedness scale (measures one’s attitudes toward and acceptance of people from other countries) are inversely related, i.e., they measure the same thing (a) Martin suggests that prejudice may be a result of an intolerant personality (b) These people would score low on sympathy and trust, and high on conservatism (c) The important point about both the world-mindedness and the tolerant-personality approaches is that each measures the same constellation of personality c characteristics as the Adorno study, but they do so without assuming the psychodynamic process that were supposed to create the authoritarian personality (2) Methodological and other conceptual problems with the authoritarian personality caused many researchers to conclude that the approach was not up to scientific standards (3) The theory only explained the presence of prejudice in a small subset of the population and did not explain why many people who did not have an authoritarian personality did show prejudice toward at least one other group (a) It also could not account for why prejudice was higher in one region (e.g., south) than the north (4) The authoritarian-personality perspective suggests that there is little hope of changing an authoritarian individual to be more accepting of others d) Right-Wing Authoritarianism i) In 1994, Altemeyer wrote a paper called the “a case study in overcompensation” ii) He found that three of Adorno’s nine related traits seemed to show a strong relationship with each other. Altemeyer called this “attitudinal clusters”. They are explained below: (1) Authoritarian submission – indicates a strong degree of submission to perceived legitimate authorities in one’s society (2) Authoritarian aggression – a general aggression and hostility directed toward outgroups, that is viewed as acceptable by recognized authorities (3) Conventionalism – a strong adherence to social norms and traditions that are perceived as sanctioned by recognized authorities iii) Together, they are called the Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) – personality style in which the individual tends to be politically conservative, more punitive toward criminals, more likely to endorse orthodox religious views, and very prejudiced toward outgroups (1) It is also used to denote the difference from Adorno’s psychodynamic authoritarianism iv) High RWA tends to be politically conservative, while low RWA tends to be politically liberal v) Altemeyer, using RWA, have found that people with high RWA tends to be prejudiced toward virtually everyone. He thus calls them “equal-opportunity bigots” vi) RWA individuals are both fearful and self-righteous vii) RWA individuals do not get the experience of socializing with people with different attitudes from their own in their teen years, which is why it is hard to change the rigid attitudes and prejudices of high-RWA individuals later on e) Religion i) There is a positive correlation between being more religious and having less tolerance and more stereotyped cognitions about others ii) The reason may be that with greater adherence to strict tenets of religious scripture comes an increase in the tendency to think in rigid, either-or terms. This will in turn increase the likelihood that one will rely on heuristics iii) Committed versus Consensual Religiosity (1) Other research have found that there is little correlation between religion and prejudice (2) People who support this view believe that the measures of religiosity used by previous researchers were too simplistic (3) Allen classified churchgoers as having either “committed” or “consensual” religious beliefs (a) Committed religious orientation – one that allows an individual to hold a wide range of belief categories through which one can evaluate the world. Committed individuals show a greater tolerance for diversity, and they are more likely to thoughtfully consider different ideas, opinions, and beliefs (b) Consensual religious individuals – tend to interpret religion more literally and concretely, tend to make more generalizations about religious topics, and relatively unreceptive to different ideas and opinions (4) Thus, consensual religiosity was closely associated with prejudiced attitudes, and committed religious beliefs were strongly associated with greater tolerance and nonprejudiced attitudes iv) Extrinsic versus Intrinsic Religious Orientations (1) Allport in 1967 examined 2 different types of religious individuals, extrinsic and intrinsic religious orientation (a) Extrinsic people use religion for their own purposes, attend church infrequently and tend to be more prejudiced toward others (b) Intrinsic people are those who have internalized the values of their religion, live life according to these beliefs, attend church regularly, and tend to be more egalitarian (2) Some critics say that the measure used by Allport, the Religious Orientation Scale (ROS) is inaccurate (3) Other critics say that because the ROS is a self-reporting measure of a sensitive topic, it is very prone to become influenced by social desirability v) Religion as Quest (1) Batson did a study in 1978 using a different religious orientation called “Quest” orientation (2) Quest orientation sees religion as a “process of questioning, doubting, and re- examination in response to the contradictions and tragedies of life” (3) High quest orientation was negatively correlated with prejudice (4) Quest orientation correlate positively with prosocial behaviour, such as compassion (5) Critics say that it is too simplistic to measure a broad religious orientation and correlate it with prejudice (6) Religion fosters both tolerance of groups accepted by the church and intolerance of groups not acceptable to the church f) Need for Cognition i) Need for cognition (NC) concept – an individual-difference variable that describes the dispositional motivation of an individual to think about the world; the higher this motivation is, the more the individual enjoys thinking about, seeking, and pondering problems and information about the world (1) The variable refers to the motivational state of an individual to think about the world (2) High NC (HNC) tend to think about, seek, and ponder information relevant to the relationships among people, events, and objects in their environment (3) Low NC (LNC) people are neither motivated to nor excited by thinking about their environment (a) They prefer to avoid extensive cognition, and instead they rely on more heuristic types of thinking that allows them to make quick judgments with the least effort (4) Note that HNC individuals remembered more stereotype-consistent information about a target than did LNC persons, but they were unaffected by target-relevant stereotypes
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