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Chapter 1

Prejudice Chapter 1.docx

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Michael Inzlicht

Introduction to the study of Stereotyping and Prejudice  Humans have a tendency to form groups  Membership to a group—may be restricted on basis of special skills, family relations, gender, power, etc.  Forming groups make it possible to construct environment so that our daily lives are easier o Like division of labour among groups in society o Specialization of skills—order within society imposed by the power some groups are given over larger society  Can live longer, happier and more fulfilling lives than if people are to fend for themselves or for their own group  Groups are not unique to humans o Tendency to form groups is a basic part of the nature of animals o Forming groups have conveyed survival benefits so successfully—it has withstood time and evolution  Helps in fighting off predators, raiding offspring  Also disadvantages and complications that group life brings o Mate competition and mate retention o Forming closer ties to members of our own group and tend to be suspicious and rejecting of members of other groups o Group members tend to favor their own groups (in-groups) over other groups that they don’t belong to (out-groups)  Even when group membership is based on the most arbitrary criteria (e.g., randomly assigning people to group A or B (example of a minimal group)—people tend to show preferences for members of their own group over those of other groups  Preferences found in group have adaptive utility evolutionally and practically o but they form basis for negative feelings about other groups S(prejudice) o believing that certain characteristics are associated with other groups (stereotypes) o this is often because out-group members are perceived to be antithetical to the in- group’s welfare or values o in-group preferences may underlie more severe negative behaviour towards other group—such as intergroup hostility and violence  If prejudice and in-group preference is evolutionarily adaptive and innate—is there anything we can do to avoid prejudice and stereotyping?—Are prejudice and stereotyping unavoidable? o A logical analysis of intergroup hostility suggests that there is no rational basis for disliking others simply because they belong to another group o Other groups comprise of people who have the same right as we do to life and pursuit of their dreams o BUT humans are far from logical in their thinking o In-group favouritism and negative attitudes towards members of other groups remain a pervasive aspect of human society today  Why is studying prejudice and stereotyping important? o Need to understand the negative influence that such thinking has on thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of people in their daily and how they relate to the targets of their prejudice o Important to understand that such negative attitudes form the basis for subsequent negative intergroup behaviour  Virtually all wars, and acts of group violence was driven by some form of prejudice and stereotyping o Ex. Spanish Inquisition, American Civil War, the American slave trade, the Holocaust, the genocides in Rwanda and Yugoslavia o Some of the most intense intergroup hostility has been based on differences in religious beliefs—Ex. Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland  Some people think that prejudice and stereotyping are no longer a problem in the United States o Some suggest racism has declined dramatically as a result of desegregation, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 o BUT—overt expressions of racial prejudice and intergroup hatred have declined—racial prejudice and stereotypes have not disappeared o Virtually any group (racial, age, gender, religious, etc.) has been the object of prejudices and stereotypes by other groups or individuals Defining Stereotyping Lippmann’s “Stereotype”  Stereotype originally derives from a term to describe a printing process in which fixed casts of material are reproduced  Term was adopted by social scientists when used stereotype to describe the tendency of people to think of someone or something in similar terms (having similar attributes) based on common feature shared by each  Walter Lipmann, 1922—WE all have ―pictures in our heads‖ of the world outside and these representations are more like templates into which we try to simplify the sometimes confusing information we receive from the world o Lipmann was accurate in his speculation about origin of stereotyping  ―WE pick out what our culture has already defined for us and we perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture‖  Stereotypes tell us what social information is important to perceive and to disregard in our environment  This process tends to confirm pre-existing stereotypes by paying attention to stereotype consistent information and disregard information that is inconsistent with our stereotypes  Research shows—content of stereotypes is largely determined by the culture in which one lives Stereotyping: From Bad to Neutral  Number of ways researchers have defined ―stereotype over the decades  Lipmann did not express any particular evaluation of the nature of stereotyping  Researchers began to regard stereotyping as a very negative, lazy way of perceiving social groups o Stereotyping was seen as an outward indicator of irrational, nonanalytic cognition o Stereotypes as an example of rigid thinking o Many regard stereotyping as an external sign of the stereotyper’s moral defectiveness  Researchers began to move away from the inclusion of assessments of the morality or correctness of the stereotype or the stereotype o Allport (1954)—moved away from including evaluative assessments of the ―goodness‖ of stereotyping or those who stereotype  He defined a stereotype by writing that ―a stereotype is an exaggerated belief associated with a category‖ o Social-cognition revolution movement in Social Psychology—argued that stereotyping ought to be examined as a normal psychological process The Social-Cognitive Definition  Early 1970’s—birth of social cognition  Researchers began to regard stereotyping as a rather automatic process of categorization that is inherent in the very nature of the way humans think about the world  Popular definitions of stereotyping by researchers o Brigham—―a generalization made about a group concerning a trait attribution, which is considered to be unjustified by an observer‖  Problem with ―which is considered to be unjustified by an observer‖—a stereotype is any generalization about a group whether an observer believes it is justified or not  By definition, a generalization about a group is bound to be unjustified for some portion of the group members  Justification of a stereotype—synonymous with the accuracy of a stereotype—Controversial issue! o Hamilton/Troiler—―a cognitive structure that contains the perceiver’s knowledge, beliefs and expectations about a human group‖  This definition tends to be too broad to accurately capture the true meaning of a stereotype  GOOD—They have included the notion that a stereotype is the association between a group and one’s belief about the group  BAD—but they also talk about one’s knowledge and expectations about the group—makes the definition too broad and inconsistent with traditional definitions fo a stereotype  Hamilton and Troiler’s definition sounds like the definition of a schema rather than stereotype  Definition of a schema—―may be defined as a cognitive structure that represents knowledge about a concept or type of stimulus, including its attributes and relations among those attributes  Schemas are broader cognitive structures that contain our knowledge of a stimulus  One’s schema of librarians—contain knowledge about the occupation (work with books, help you retrieve books)  One’s belief (stereotype) of librarians—all librarians are introverted and have poor fashion sense o Ashmore/Del Boca—“a set of beliefs about the personal attributes of a group of people”  More consistent with the essense of past definitions of stereotypes  It restricts the meaning of stereotype to a generalization about a group of people  This book will use Ashmore/Del Boca’s definition Cultural and Individual Stereotypes  Important to differentiate between cultural and individual stereotypes  Cultural stereotypes—describes ―shared or community wide patterns of beliefs‖  Individual stereotypes—describes the beliefs held by an individual about the characteristic of a group  Difference is important theoretically and methodologically o Adjective rating scales used in research tend to assess cultural stereotypes o Any other measure of stereotype content in which the respondent’s answers are restricted to the stereotype content choices offered by the measure tend to be inaccurate  One’s cultural stereotype of a group might not be the same as one’s individual stereotype of a group o So assessing a person’s knowledge about the stereotypes of the group in their culture yields no information on whether the individual personally believes the stereotype—or whether there are other ideas about the group that may tend to drive one’s attitude toward the group  Early thinking (Lippmann)—suggest that we tend to perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture‖ o Now researchers tend to be interested in assessing individual stereotypes o because many experiments have demonstrated that these are most directly related to that person’s specific thoughts Is a Stereotype an Attitude?  Debate concerning nature of stereotypes  Some believe that a stereotype is similar to an attitude  Any attitude is usually viewed as falling some where on a good-bad, or favourable- unfavourable dimension o Ex. You may have a favourable attitude toward soccer but an unfavourable attitude toward table tennis  Attitudes comprise of three components o Behavioural component o Affective component o Cognitive component  Some theorists define stereotypes as intergroup attitudes—partitioned into these three components  Majority of researchers agree that stereotypes represent only the cognitive component fo intergroup attitude o The other two components of an intergroup attitude  Behaviour component = Discrimination  Affect component = Prejudice  Discrimination = any negative behaviour directed toward an individual based on their membership in a group  Although a stereotype is not an attitude—intergroup attitude is composed of one’s thoughts or beliefs about, feelings toward and behaviour toward a particular group Positive Vs Negative Stereotypes  Definition of stereotype does not indicate anything about the affective valence (positive/negative)  When most people think of a stereotype—think of a ―bad‖ characteristic about a group  BUT researchers don’t regard stereotypes as being good or bad o They are just generalizations about a group o We know more negative stereotypes about a group than positive stereotypes o Positive stereotypes are beliefs that attribute desirable or positive characteristics to a group  Ex. Asians and Intelligence Defining Prejudice  Prejudice can be taken literally to indicate a prejudgment about something  Prejudice can suggest evaluation, either positive or negative toward a stimulus o Ex. Being prejudiced toward your favourite football team  Individua
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