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psyc12 CH6-DONE[1].doc

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Michael Inzlicht

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. SOCIAL STIGMA 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 others. 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 one 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). GROUP IDENTIFICATION 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 image. No special affinity toward, or derive no self esteem from, their group 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 identity. 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- threatened counterparts. 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. o Why: Socioeconomic disadvantages that African Americans experience that affect their academic environment, Cultural biases embedded into standardized intelligence tests, and 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 male counterparts. 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.
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