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Chapter 6

PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Cognitive Distortion, Pre-Medical, Acting White

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Chapter 6 : Experiencing Prejudice
Prejudice originated from & was maintained within the majority perceiver of the minority
o If a perceiver holds prejudice toward a target, & if we want to understand the processes
that lead to formation, maintenance, & reduction of that prejudice, we need to understand
more about that perceiver
This is how much of the research literature has approached prejudice & stereotyping
Stereotyping & prejudice occur in a dynamic social context involving the perceiver & target
reacting to each other
o It involves feedback from target that often confirms the expectations of perceiver, w/
perceiver's behaviour often then confirming expectations of target
Need to consider target in this interaction
Social Stigma
Stigma : Possession of a characteristic or attribute that conveys a negative social identity
o Stigmatized person is one who is "reduced in our minds from a whole & unusual person
to a tainted, discounted one"
o Stigmas are characteristics that mark the individual as "deviant, flawed, limited, spoiled,
or socially undesirable"
o 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 3 types of stigmas :
1. "abominations of the body" (i.e. Physical deformities, being overweight etc)
2. "blemishes of the individual character" (i.e. "drunkenness)
3. "tribal stigmas of race, nation, & religion" (i.e. Prejudice against another race)
Researchers know much about how non-stigmatized persons view stigmatized persons, but
little research has been conducted on experiences of stigmatized person & how stigmatized &
non-stigmatized individuals regard each other in social interactions
Group Identification
Previous research indicates that individuals faced with external threats (such as prejudice)
show stronger ingroup identification
o Research has confirmed this general effect with Jewish persons, African Americans &
o However subsequent research has indicated that whether the individual has already
strongly personally identified w/ their stigmatized group will have a major impact on the
degree to which that individual disassociates from the group
People differ in degree to which they identify w/ their stigmatized group
High identifiers are much more likely to associate themselves with their group,
even when--especially when--it has a negative image
Derive much of their self-esteem from their identification as a group
Much more likely to seek collective strategies against group threat
Tend to make it clear that they are fully committed, loyal group members,
who are in it for the long-run
Low identifiers are much more likely to dissociate themselves from the group,
especially when the group has a negative image
Feel no special affinity toward, or derive no self-esteem from, their group
"seem quite prepared to let the group fall apart" when group is threatened
or has a negative image
Much more individualistic & opportunistic in that hey will only identify
themselves with the group when it would positively affect their social
Stereotype Threat
For most groups, there exist at least a few widely known stereotypes
From early on, children learn these stereotypes & are aware that their own group & other
groups are sometimes negatively viewed by others
Individuals in stereotyped groups often find themselves ever-vigilant about not behaving in
ways that confirm stereotypes about one's group
o Doing so would appear to lend evidence to support the legitimacy of the stereotype in the
yes of others, & even in the individual's own view
o Occasionally, individuals in stereotyped groups will engage in performance-limiting
behaviour (i.e. Practicing less before an athletic event, or not studying prior to an exam),
in order to provide them w/ a ready excuse for their expected poor performance on the
stereotype-relevant dimension)
Stereotype threat: Situation in which negative expectations about ability (due to stereotypes
about he group's ability on that dimension) lead the stigmatized person to experience anxiety
at the thought of performing poorly & confirming the stereotype. This anxiety often has the
unfortunate effects of inhibiting performance & confirming the stereotype
o Recent research suggests that stereotype threat has its effect through the mediating
influence of a drop in working-memory capacity
o Effects of stereotype threat especially likely to occur in people who strongly identify
with the group about which the stereotype exists & in individuals who are self-conscious
of their stigmatized status
o People under stereotype threat actually fare worse physiologically than their non-
threatened counterparts
Black participants in a threatened condition showed significantly higher blood
pressure than their non-threatened counterparts
Research suggests that this may help explain the higher incidence of coronary
heart disease & high blood pressure among Black persons
Most attention has been focused on stereotypes that revolve around intellectual ability &
o For African Americans , a common stereotype suggests that African Americans perform
poorly compared with others on measures of intellectual ability
o Statistics on results of standardized aptitude & intelligence tests over the decade suggests
that African Americans consistently average about 15 points less on such measures
compared to Caucasians
Some of reasons for this gap are socioeconomic disadvantages that African
Americans experience that affect their academic environment , cultural biases
embedded into standardized intelligence tests, & discrimination & prejudice3 that
they face from others
However this does not explain finding that even when African Americans &
Caucasians have the same preparation, African Americans still achieve still
achieve less (i.e. Poorer subsequent GPA, time to graduation etc.)
Steele & Aronson suggest that debilitating effects of stereotype threat may account
for the gap in subsequent achievement b/w similar-scoring African Americans &
when African American participants believed that a difficult verbal test was a
measure of their intellectual ability (compared to those 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 (fig.6.1 p.136)
Also found that just making the stereotype salient impaired the performance of
African Americans on the task , even in non-diagnostic conditions (fig.6.2
A recent meta-analysis suggests that this disparity may also be due to "stereotype lift"
o Non-stigmatized persons seem to experience a performance enhancement when they
engage in a downward comparison b/w themselves & a member of a stereotyped
o So when black & white people are similarly prepared educationally & have the same
abilities , the influence of stereotype lift may be a contributing factor that might explain
continued performance discrepancies b/w the Black & White individuals
o Being a member of a stereotyped group can also affect the degree of one's self-
confidence about performance on the stereotype-relevant dimension
o Aronson & Inzlicht found that those who were higher in "stereotype vulnerability" (the
tendency to expect, perceive & be influenced by stereotypes about one's social category)
tended to be least in touch with the quality of their performances on a stereotype-relevant
They were not able to accurately predict what they knew relative to the demands of
the test
As a result of this inaccuracy, their academic (stereotype domain related) self-
confidence was subject to stronger fluctuations
o For women a commonly held stereotype has been that they are less capable in science &
Quinn & Spencer manipulated the diagnosticity of a math exam (i.e either by telling
participants that the math exam was diagnostic or non-diagnostic of their math
ability) for male & female participants who had matched math backgrounds & skills
( as measured by their SAT scores & calculus grades)
When women believed that the test was diagnostic, they performed poorly
compared with males
When women believed that the exam was not diagnostic, they performed as
well as the other male participant