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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Psychology of Prejudice

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Michael Inzlicht

Chapter 2 – Origin and maintenance of Stereotypes and Prejudice 1. The Formation of Stereotypes 1.1. Categorization 1.1.1.Cognitive psychologists of the 1960s found that the human brain seems to almost automatically classify or categorize similar objects in the environment 1.1.2.Most psychologists now think of stereotypes as a natural consequence of cognition 1.2. Why We Categorize 1.2.1.The reason people categorize is because we have a limited-capacity cognitive system, which cannot simultaneously process all available information about the social environment 1.2.2.Based on Aristotle’s principle of association, we assume that things are similar on the basis of one feature will likely have other notable similarities on a number of dimensions 1.3. Types of Categorization 1.3.1.Basic categories like age, race, and gender have very strong influences on how the perceiver interprets most of the other information about the perceived individual 1.3.2.Other researchers believe that seeing and perceiving category words are not the same. I.e., when people hear a category word (e.g., Hispanic), we automatically think of stereotypes for that group. However seeing that person in real life does not bring up as many stereotypes about the group that the person belongs to 1.4. Ingroups and Outgroups 1.4.1.Ingroups – groups to which we belong 1.4.2.Outgroups – groups to which we do not belong 1.4.3.During any given environment, people tend to perceive and remember the information in terms of the most salient categories. E.g., a co-worker jumping up and down in an office setting 1.4.4.In terms of outgroups and ingroups, we tend to perceive all outgroup members are alike, and they share similar characteristics, whereas all ingroup members are like snowflakes, and they are all very unique, except share maybe one or two similarities, such as occupation 1.4.5.Those who more closely represent the outgroup stereotypes are the representatives of the outgroup. Those members who do not represent the outgroup very much will be perceived to be less stereotypical This can affect criminal sentencing – Africans that do not look very ‘stereotypical’ tend to receive less sentencing than those who resemble the African stereotypes Outgroup homogeneity – the belief that members of outgroups are more similar to each other than are members of one’s ingroups Ingroup bias – any group to which one believes he or she belongs 1.4.6.Outgroup & ingroup bias help to 1) simply social environment by categorizing others 2) enhance our self-concept by thinking that we do not belong to a homogenous group 1.4.7.Research shows that favouring our ingroups does not always lead to negative stereotypes of the outgroup 1.4.8.However, the more an outgroup is seen as homogeneous, the greater the likelihood for perceivers to use group or stereotype labels to process information about the outgroup 1.4.9.Researches show that being exposed to a stereotyped outgroup can either lead to more stereotyped or more positive view of the outgroup Specifically, if the outgroup does something negative, the stereotype will be reinforced However, if members of the outgroup do something positive, the perceiver is led to be more sympathetic about the group, and open to further interactions Minimal groups – groups formed on no meaningful groups. They have none of the usual features of group structure: a coherent group structure, face-to-face interaction, a set of norms for the group members, etc When people are put into minimal groups, they exhibit ingroup favouritism or outgroup homogeneity Research on minimal groups suggest that basis for ingroup favouritism may be neither a perceived dispositional similarity nor mere arbitrary categorization but the common fate of one’s group members that seems to be the catalyst for ingroup favouritism and outgroup homogeneity. I.e., categories facilitate ingroup or outgroup bias, but it is not the perception that causes this, but rather the fact that categorization forms groups 1.4.10. Ingroup favouritism is not universal. People of low status tend to have outgroup favouritism, and people of high status tend to have ingroup favouritism on certain dimensions 1.5. Social Learning 1.5.1.By age 5, children show distinct recognition of some group over others, including race and gender preferences 1.5.2.Children of parents who were authoritarian were more likely to develop prejudiced attitudes 1.5.3.There is a distinction between children who were taught stereotypes and those who ‘caught’ stereotypes in an unhealthy and negative home atmosphere 1.5.4.Childhood Intergroup Contact Researches show that childhood interracial contact is a good predictor of adult endorsement of outgroup stereotypes and prejudiced attitudes Those with higher exposure to outgroups when they were young were less likely to be prejudiced toward outgroups 1.5.5.Value Transmission in Families Evidence suggests that racial attitudes are not inborn. Race influences a child’s perception of the world early on Racial attitudes gradually develop in the first years of life. 3 and 4 year olds show awareness of racial cues and even show a preference for one race over others Conclusion – children learn stereotypes and prejudiced attitudes Parents are a first and powerful source of information about the world, and children are strongly influenced by the parents’ information Children directly learn from the parents’ teachings, or they ‘catch’ a family environment that promotes negative outgroup attitudes Children do not fully comprehend the impacts of stereotypes and cannot internalize these attitudes Thus, at early stages of life (before 10), children are imitating the sentiments of their parents The main determining factor on whether the children will have the same attitudes as their parents depends on ‘Right-Wing Authoritarianism’ According to this, children of low-RWA parents are very similar to their parents in attitudes Children of high-RWA parents will share similar attitudes to their parents if the parents were responsive (encouraged discussion, explaining reasons behind requests) Children of high-RWA parents who were not responsive did not seem to share the attitudes of parents, mainly because there was no incentive to do so 1.5.6.Influence of Stereotypes on Cognition in Children Just as children learn from parents, they also pay attention to overt and covert messages about intergroup relations they receive from movies, games, magazines ‘if it is in the media, it is true’ – media is used as a tool to help us decide the pervasiveness and acceptability of our beliefs and attitudes If I frequently watches the media, I might believe that these attitudes represent the normal, mainstream, views of society A research showed that heavy news readers were more likely to become uncomfortable to dark-skinned criminals on TV, more likely to remember the criminal if he was dark-skinned, and more favourable if the victim is dark-skinned 1.5.7.Implicit Theories Implicit theories – our individual beliefs about the nature of personality and the behaviours, attitudes, and values associated with certain types of individuals Entity theorists believe that one’s personality traits are fixed and cannot be changed Incremental theorists believe that one’s personality traits are flexible and can be modified Entity theorists tend to believe that because traits are fixed, they are stable indicators of behaviour. They also believe that behaviour is consistent. These theorists are more likely to infer a host of related target-personality characteristics based on an isolated behaviour by the target Incremental theorists are less likely to make that inference, because they are more cognizant of the belief that behaviour is less predictable just based on one sample of behaviour 1.6. The Efficiency of Stereotypes 1.6.1.People use stereotypes to get on with their day. If people were keen, social observers of other people’s personality traits, then they would waste a lot of energy and accomplish nothing else 1.6.2.Stereotypes give people both efficiency and accuracy in their evaluations of others, i.e., stereotypes are a compromise between efficiency and accuracy 1.6.3.Research has backed up this theory. Stereotype labels enable participants to devote less attention to forming an impression of the target and more attention to other tasks 2. How and Why Stereotypes are Maintained 2.1. Stereotypes allow people to achieve a major cognitive goal: to arrive at the fastest judgments possible, using the least amount of cognitive effort 2.2. People are often at cognitive dissonance around the thought that one has stereotypes about others and one is a good, fair, and rational thinker 2.2.1.According to cognitive dissonance, these contradictory thoughts will have to be alleviated. In almost all cases, one’s cognition about stereotyping changes 2.2.2.Instead, we do not allow ourselves to come to the conclusion that we use stereotyping in daily lives. We often either do not realize, or do not consciously acknowledge, that we do indeed stereotype others 2.2.3.This self-delusion helps us maintain the cherished stereotypes while reducing the possibility for cognitive dissonance 2.3. Selective Attention to Stereotype-Relevant Information 2.3.1.Stereotype-inconsistent information is usually perceived as dissonance-arousing, because it is threatening to one’s self-concept 2.3.2.I.e., if I realize that the way I have interpreted other people is unsound, I might feel foolish 2.3.3.People facing stereotype-inconsistent information often change the validity of this information One way to do this is to use heuristic that I will only pay attention to information that confirms that I already believe, and pay no attention to stereotype- inconsistent information 2.3.4.One positive feature of stereotype is that they help us anticipate likely motives, attitudes, and behaviours of others, and thus provide us with a comfortable sense of what to expect 2.3.5.With stereotypes, which people often holds strong expectancies to come true, people often remember the expectancy- or stereotype-consistent information 2.3.6.In one research, researchers presented participants with stereotype-consistent and – inconsistent information about their own group. The result were – we tend to remember stereotype-consistent information about outgroups and stereotype-inconsistent information about ingroups, which suggested that we like to think of our own groups as consisting of unique individuals and other groups as consisting of people who share common characteristics and who are more similar than different 2.3.7.High-prejudiced but not low-prejudice persons pay more attention to stereotype- inconsistent behaviours in order to attribute them to external factors and stereotype- consistent behaviours to internal (personality) factors 2.3.8.Recent researches have indicated contrary to the previous researches. Researchers have now found that stereotypes are efficient because they facilitate the processing of both stereotype-consistent and –inconsistent information when cognitive capacity to process information is low Stereotypes enable us to process stereotype-consistent information more quickly and to devote more cognitive resources to stereotype-inconsistent information. Thus, less attention is given to stereotype-consistent information, and this information is thus weakly encoded in memory Another study adds value to this research. It found out that although perceivers have stronger stereotype-consistent impressions of a target, their memory for the specific stereotype-relevant information may be poor 2.3.9.There is argument that the act of categorizing something can reduce one’s openness to revision of that initial categorization, even in the face of evidence that the initial assessment was incorrect Some researchers argue that stereotypes bias the way we perceive the world, specifically affecting the way information is encoded This suggests that stereotypes have their strongest influence at the actual perception of the social information, and not later when one is trying to recall that social information 2.4. Subcategorization 2.4.1.Subcategories – special, separate cognitive categories for deviant (i.e., stereotype- inconsistent) members of a stereotyped outgroup, so that a stereotype can remain intact In other words, we do this because the stereotype-inconsistent member of the stereotyped group is seen as unrepresentative of the whole group, so stereotypes that apply to the group do not appear to apply to the particular group member 2.4.2.Another reason for subcategories is to enable us to maintain our stereotypes for the group in the face of
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