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Chapter 6

Chapter 6 Psychology of Prejudice

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Michael Inzlicht

Chapter 6 – Experiencing Prejudice 1) Stereotyping and prejudice occur in a dynamic social context involving the perceiver and target reacting to each other. It involves feedback from the target that often confirms the expectations of the perceiver, with the perceiver’s behaviour often then confirming the expectations of the target 2) Social Stigma a) Stigma – the possession of a characteristic or attribute that conveys a negative social identity b) Stigma marks the individual as “deviant, flawed, limited, spoiled or generally undesirable” c) Stigma also covers any physical, behavioural, psychological marker that elicits negative evaluation from society d) Three types of stigmas, as described by Erving Goffman: i) Abominations of the body ii) Blemishes of individual character iii) Tribal stigmas of race, nation, and religion 3) Group Identification a) Research indicates that individuals faced with external threats (e.g., prejudice) show stronger ingroup identification b) New research suggest that the identification depends on how strongly the individual views between himself and the group i) High-identifiers are more likely to associate themselves with their group, especially when it has a negative image ii) They derive their self-esteem from their identification as a group member iii) They are likely to seek collective strategies, and they are fully committed, loyal group members iv) Low identifiers are much more likely to dissociate themselves from the group, especially when the group has a negative image v) Low identifiers seem ‘quite prepared to let the group fall apart’ when the group is threatened or has a negative image vi) They are more individualistic and opportunistic in that they will “only identify themselves with the group when it would positively affect their social identity” 4) Stereotype Threat a) Individuals in stereotyped groups will often resist themselves from behaving in ways that confirm stereotypes about one’s group. Doing so would appear to show support the legitimacy of the stereotype in the eyes of others, even in the individual’s own view b) Individuals in stereotyped groups will engage in performance-limiting behaviour in order to provide them with an excuse for their expected poor performance on the stereotype-relevant dimension c) Stereotype threat – situation in which negative expectations about ability (due to stereotypes about the group’s ability on that dimension) lead the stigmatized person to experience anxiety at the thought of performing poorly and confirming the stereotype. This anxiety often has the unfortunate effects in inhibiting performance and confirming the stereotype d) Research shows that people under stereotype threat actually fare worse physiologically than their non-threatened counterparts e) Black participants in a threatened condition showed significantly higher blood pressure f) This may help to explain the higher incidence of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure among Black persons g) Stereotype lift – nonstigmatized persons seem to experience a performance enhancement when they engage in a downward comparison between themselves and a member of a stereotyped outgroup h) Those people higher in “stereotype vulnerability” tended to be the least in touch with the quality of their performances on a stereotype-relevant task i) When participants were individuated, i.e., distanced oneself from the stereotyped group, they outperformed their nonindividuated counterparts j) The results of a research that examined the influence of salient positive stereotypes on one’s task performance indicate that when participants’ ethnic identity was made salient, their math performance was significantly worse than when their personal identity was made salient i) Other research on the same subject reached the opposite conclusion k) Other research on an-Asian American research found that it is the low sociability (and not the perceived high intellectual competence) that primarily drives anti-American prejudice i) this support the Stereotype-content model (SCM) – which says that many stereotypes and prejudices can be located along two dimensions: (1) competence (2) warmth l) many stereotype-threatened individuals are motivated to do well on the tasks, however they tend to be inefficient in their work, largely because their attention is split between their alternating assessment of the correct answers to the task and their worry that their performance may confirm a stereotype of their group m) disidentification – process whereby members of stereotyped groups disengage their identity from a stereotype-relevant domain, in order to preserve their self-esteem i) e.g., a woman may disidentify with achievement in science and mathematics, and African Americans may disidentify from academics in order to retain their self-esteem n) research shows that stigmatized person is more likely than the nonstigmatized person to show disidentification, however they are less likely to see the stereotype-threat dimension as unimportant i) thus, although disidentified stigmatized individuals agree that the stereotype-threat dimension is important, is it not important for them and for their self-identity o) social identity theory (SIT) states that we drive our identity and self-esteem through 2 avenues: i) through our own accomplishments ii) through our group membership (1) SIT suggest that when one belongs to devalued group, continued identification with the group threatens one’s self-esteem. These individuals may disidentify with their ingroup in order to protect their self-esteem p) Research shows that when participants are told negative stereotypes inconsistent with the ingroup lead to ingroup members to increase their perceptions of ingroup homogeneity. When participants are told negative stereotypes consistent with the ingroup lead to the participants to protect their social identity by emphasizing that not all members of their group are characterized by the negative stereotype; emphasizing more ingroup heterogeneity q) Adaptive aspect of disidentification – healthy, effective coping response against prejudice and discrimination r) Maladaptive aspect of disidentification – it imperils the individual’s chances for success and achievement in domains that society may regard as important 5) Self-Esteem a) Research shows that stigmatized persons suffer no damage to their self-esteem, and in some cases, have higher self-esteem than their nonstigmatized counterparts b) Other research shows that some stigmatized groups (e.g., African Americans) do not show decrease in self-esteem, but others (e.g., overweight persons) do suffer lower self-esteem c) The perceived controllability of the stigma determines how some people are able to protect their self-esteem while others cannot d) Those individuals who believe that their stigmatizing condition is controllable may be more likely to feel that negative evaluations of them are justified, and will be more likely to feel lower self- esteem e) On the other hand, believing that one’s stigma is uncontrollable will lead the stigmatized individual to resist the “blame” for the stigma, to attribute negative evaluations to prejudice, and to maintain self-esteem f) Research shows that African Americans tend to have higher self-esteem than Caucasians i) African Americans do not base their self-worth on the way others view them ii) Their reference group is other African Americans, and not society iii) They are a distinctive minority group, and by embracing that distinctiveness and their positive ethnic/racial identity, they maintain self-esteem high g) Denial of Discrimination i) Other research revealed another way individuals maintain their self-esteem ii) Stigmatized persons are able to deny that they have been personally discriminated against, or that they have suffered prejudice, discrimination, or other mistreatment related to their stigma iii) These stigmatized person acknowledges that their group suffers discrimination and prejudice in society but claims that they have not personally had such negative experiences iv) Such a perspective may be an adaptive way to deal with the unfair treatment one often receives as a result of being a member of a stigmatized group v) The more an individual does endorse denial of discrimination, the less likely it is that negative behaviour/evaluations from the nonstigmatized individual will be interpreted as instances of discrimination or prejudice h) Self-Fulfilling Prophecy i) Stigmatized group comes to accept and believe some negative stereotypes about itself occurs through a self-fulfilling prophecy ii) Self-fulfilling prophecy – process by which a perceiver’s expectations about a target leads that target to have in ways that confirm those expectations iii) Thus, the reason why some stigmatized groups believe in negative stereotypes about its group is because they have internalized the negative views of the group that the society directly and indirectly communicate to them iv) Allport believes that stigmatized groups do this because if their own group is worth just as much as other groups (which are socially perceived to be superior), then it would bring about tremendous psychological discomfort and cause him to question the structure of social reality v) Please note that self-fulfilling prophecies do not occur when the target is aware of the perceiver’s expectations vi) In sum, Major and her colleagues suggest four ways the stigmatized can maintain their self- esteem: (1) Attributing the negative evaluations and reactions of others to prejudice (2) Devaluing outcomes on which their group compares poorly with other groups (3) Comparing one’s stigmatized ingroup with other stigmatized groups, rather than to nonstigmatized groups (4) Psychologically disengaging their self-esteem from feedback in domains in which their group is at a disadvantage 6) Intergroup Interactions a) People experience discomfort and a desire to avoid interactions with physically different persons because they are conflicted over whether to stare at the individual b) Research found that the tendency to stare at an outgroup member comes primarily from curiosity about the group with whom the subjects infrequently come into contact c) Dynamic Nature of Interactions i) Researchers need to conduct more investigation toward understanding the dynamic LIVE interactions between majority- and minority-group members
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