CHAPTER 6: EXPERIENCING PREJUDICE
Prejudice originated and was maintained within the majority perceiver of
the minority target.
It is a fairly intuitive notion to think that if a perceiver holds prejudice
toward a target, and if we want to understand the processes that lead to
the formation, maintenance, and reduction of that prejudice, we need to
understand more about that perceiver.
Stereotyping and prejudice are not processes that involve a perceiver
regarding an inactive target of stereotyping.
Rather, stereotyping and prejudice occur in a dynamic social context
involving the perceiver and target reacting to each other.
It is a two way street, involving feedback from the target and often
confirms the expectations of the perceiver, with the perceivers
behaviour often then confirming the expectations of the target.
Think of being different as a child, how did people perceive you?
Negatively? This is why so many people try to fit in with the majority:
so they will not be singled out for ridicule or treated negatively by
Such treatment is fairly overly among children, who, not having
learned socially sophisticated methods of expressing disapproval, will
have no compunction about telling everyone and the individual in
question about the targets deficiencies (sometimes entailing
laughter, cruel jokes an/or physical hostility).
Among adults, those negative evaluations may take the form of
subtle negative comments, rude behaviour, or other subtle
expressions of prejudice.
Noted sociologist Erving Goffman referred to the unusual
characteristics that engender negative evaluations as being
indicators of stigma. The stigmatized person is one who is reduced
in our minds from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted
o Stigmas are characteristics that mark the individual as
deviant, flawed, limited, spoiled or generally undesirable o The reader will note that stigma encompasses all the more
familiar situations where prejudice is shown (i.e. racial,
religious, gender, age, sexual orientation), but it also covers
any physical, Behavioural, psychological marker that elicits
negative evaluation from society.
o Goffman denoted three types of stigmas:
1. Abominations of the body (e.g. physical deformities,
being overweight, etc.)
2. Blemishes of individual character (e.g. drunkenness)
3. Tribal stigmas of race, nation, and religion (e.g. prejudice
against another race).
Research indicates that individuals faced with external threats show
stronger in-group identification
o Example: with Jewish persons, African Americans, and women.
Doosje and Ellemers found that people differ in the degree to which
they identify with their stigmatized group.
High identifiers are much more likely to associate themselves with
their group, even when-especially when-it has a negative image.
o High identifiers derive much of their self-esteem from their
identification as a group member.
They are much more likely to seek collective strategies
against group threat.
In it for the long run, super loyal.
o Low identifiers, are much more likely to dissociate themselves
from the group, especially when the group has a negative
No special affinity toward, or derive no self esteem from,
Quite prepared to let the group fall apart, when the
group is threatened or has a negative image.
Low identifiers are thus much more individualistic and
opportunistic in that they will only identify themselves
with the group when it would positively affect their social
STEREOTYPE THREAT Individuals in stereotyped groups often find themselves ever vigilant
about not behaving in ways that confirm stereotypes.
This is the stereotype threat.
It would seem that if you were aware of the stereotype and you
decided to behave in ways that disconfirm the stereotype, you would
behave in that counter stereotypical fashion, and that would be it.
The anxiety that one feels in thinking about possibly confirming the
stereotype can be so debilitation that it actually impairs ones
performance on the stereotype-relevant dimension, thereby having
the paradoxical effect of confirming the stereotype.
Research suggests that stereotype threat has its effect through the
mediating influence of a drop in working-memory capacity.
Research shows that people under stereotype threat actually fare
worse physiologically than their non-threatened counterparts.
o Specifically, Black participants in a threatened condition
showed significantly higher blood pressure than their non-
o The researchers suggest that this may help explain the higher
incidence of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure
among Black persons.
Most of the attention has focused on stereotypes that revolve around
intellectual ability and performance.
Statistics on results of standardized aptitude and intelligence tests
over the decade suggest that African American consistently average
about 15 points les son such measures compared to Caucasians.
Socioeconomic disadvantages that African Americans
experience that affect their academic environment,
Cultural biases embedded into standardized intelligence
Discrimination and prejudice that they face from others.
o However, this does not explain the finding that even when
African Americans and Caucasians have the same preparation. o They found that when African American participants believed
that a difficult verbal test was a measure of their intellectual
ability (compared to those who were not told this), they
underperformed compared to Caucasians in the ability-
diagnostic condition (intellectual ability) but performed as well
as Caucasians in the non-diagnostic condition.
o They also found that just making the stereotype salient
impaired the performance of African Americans on the task
o Walton and Cohen suggests that this disparity may also be due
to what they term stereotype lift: that is, non stigmatized
persons seem to experience a performance enhancement when
they engage in a downward comparison between themselves
and a member of a stereotyped outgroup.
o Being a member of a stereotyped group can also affect the
degree of ones self-confidence about performance on the
stereotype relevant dimension.
o Inzlicht and Aronson found that those who were higher in
stereotype vulnerability (the tendency to expect, perceive
and be influenced by stereotypes about ones social category)
tended to be the least in touch with the quality of their
performances on a stereotype relevant task.
Research for women reveals similar results, implicating the
stereotype threat effects. For women, a commonly held stereotype
has been that they are less capable in science and math.
o Results indicated that when women believed that the exam
was diagnostic, they performed poorly compared with their
o When women believed it was not diagnostic, they performed as
well as the other male participants.
o Simply completely a math test in a group in which she is the
sole woman (with two other men) seems to make salient the
stereotype of womens poor math performance, and women in
these situations do indeed perform poorly compared with
women completing a math test in a group of two other women.
In addition to examining race and gender, researchers have looked at
the stereotype threat attached to being older and to being poor.