Chapter 6: Experiencing Prejudice (p. 134-162)
- Stereotyping and prejudice occur in a dynamic social context involving the perceiver and target
reacting to each other.
Stigma: the possession of a characteristic or attribute that conveys a negative social identity
- A stigmatized person is one who is “reduced in our minds from a whole and usual person to a
tainted, discounted one.”
Goffman’s three types of stigmas:
1. Abominations of the body: physical deformities, being overweight)
2. Blemishes of individual character: being an alcoholic
3. Tribal stigmas of race, nation, and religion: prejudice against another race
- Previous research indicates that individuals faced with external threats (i.e. prejudice) show
stronger ingroup identification
- However, whether an individual has already strongly personally identified with their stigmatized
group will have a major impact on the degree to which that individual disassociates from the
High-identifiers: associate themselves with their group – especially when it has a negative image. They
derive their self-esteem from their identification as a group member and make it clear they are fully
Low-identifiers: disassociate themselves from the group – especially when it has a negative image. They
derive no self-esteem from the group and are more individualistic and opportunistic. Only identify with
their group when it positively affects their social identity.
Stereotype threat: situation in which negative expectations about ability lead the stigmatized person to
experience anxiety at the thought of performing poorly and confirming the stereotype. This anxiety often
has the unfortunate effects of inhibiting performance and confirming the stereotype. - Occasionally, individuals in stereotyped groups will engage in performance-limiting behaviour in
order to provide them with a ready excuse for their expected poor performance on the stereotype-
- The negative implications of confirming the stereotype can impair one’s ability to behave in a
- Also, anxiety in this dimension can also impair one’s performance
- Stereotype threat is most likely to occur in people who strongly identify with the group about
which the stereotype exists and in people who are self-conscious of their stigmatized status.
- Specifically, Black participants in a threatened condition showed significantly higher blood
pressure than their non-threatened counterparts.
- Steele and Aronson suggest that the debilitating effects of stereotype threat may account for the
gap in achievement between similar scoring African Americans and Caucasians. Their study
found that when African Americans were told the test would reveal their diagnostic ability, they
did poorly in comparison to Caucasians. However, when they were not told this they performed
just as well (nondiagnostic condition).
- It was also found that making the stereotype salient impaired the performance of African
Americans, even in nondiagnostic conditions.
- “Stereotype lift” refers to the enhancement of a nonstigmatized person’s performance when
comparing themselves to a stereotyped group member.
- Aronson and Inzlicht found that people higher in “stereotype vulnerability” were less in touch
with the quality of their performance on a stereotype relevant task.
- Stereotype threat found in Whites who take an IAT arising from their anxiety to obtain a score
that might indicate they are racist.
- The stereotype threat is not subject to change.
- Stereotype-threat effects can be reduced when people from the stereotyped group are
If a stereotype about a group indicates doing well on a task, could that stereotype enhance or impair
- Results indicate that when participant’s ethnic identity is made salient, their performance was
worse than when their personal identity or gender was made salient. However, research done by
Ambady et al. found the opposite in Asian women when their race was made salient on a math
test. - Elimination stereotype threat CANNOT eliminate group differences on stereotype-relevant task
Disidentification: process whereby members of stereotyped groups disengage their identity from a
stereotype-relevant domain, in order to preserve their self-esteem.
- Allows the stigmatized to retain their self-esteem.
- Although the stigmatized are more likely than the nonstigmatized to show Disidentification, they
are less likely o see the stereotype-threat dimension as unimportant.
- Although disidentified stigmatized individuals agree that the stereotype-threat dimension is
important, it is not important for them and for their social identity.
- Threatened individuals may disidentify with their ingroup in order to protect their self-esteem.
- Negative stereotypes that are inconsistent with the ingroup stereotype lead ingroup members to
increase their perceptions of ingroup homogeneity or unity.
- Negative stereotypes that are consistent with the ingroup stereotype lead ingroup members to
emphasize that not all members of their group are characterized by that negative stereotype,
leading to an ingroup heterogeneity approach.
Controllable stigma: indicates some personal flaw (i.e. being overweight) that can be seen as a lack of
effort. The stigmatized person is more likely to feel that negative evaluations of them are justified, and
will be more likely to feel lower self-esteem.
Uncontrollable stigmas: indicates abnormality that is uncontrollable (i.e. physical or mental disability).
The stigmatized person is likely to resist the “blame” for the stigma, to attribute negative evaluations to
prejudice, and to maintain self-esteem.
- African Americans tend to have higher self-esteem than Caucasians. One reason could be that
they do not base their self-worth on the way others view them.
Ways individuals maintain self-esteem:
Denial of Discrimination
- Denial of being affected by prejudice. Found in African Americans, women, and other minor