PSY 220 CH.11
Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
• Christopher Columbus’s diary entry saying that the people of the new land are well built,
and would make good slaves.
• He was on his way to developing a positive stereotype about the people because they
were nice. But they were different which led him to be prejudiced against the islanders.
• Humans have made mainly advancements since then. Slavery is pretty much abolished,
races and religions mix, and the US even elected a coloured president.
• Despite progress, it is abundantly clear that the human tendencies to stereotype, harbour
prejudice, and engage in discrimination are still with us.
• There will never be a single, comprehensive theory of stereotyping, prejudice, or
• Three general principles shed light on the issues:
1. Economic perspective identifies the roots of much intergroup hostility in the competing
interests that set many groups apart from one another.
2. Motivational perspective emphasizes the psychological needs and wishes that lead to
3. Cognitive perspective traces the origin of stereotyping to the same cognitive processes
that allow people to categorize, say, items of furniture into distinct classes of chairs,
couches, and tables. Takes into account the frequent conflict between people’s
consciously held beliefs and values and their quick, reflexive reactions to members of
specific racial, ethnic, occupational, or other demographics.
• They are often complementary elements of a complete analysis.
Characterizing Intergroup Bias
• Stereotypes: Beliefs that certain attributes are characteristic of members of particular
• Stereotypes can be positive or negative, true or false.
• Prejudice: A negative attitude or affective response toward a certain group and its
• While negative attitudes are more common, positive prejudice is also possible.
• Discrimination: Unfair treatment of members of a particular group based on their
membership in that group.
• Roughly speaking, stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination refer to the belief,
attitudinal, and behavioural components, respectively, of negative intergroup relations.
• Often all components go together, but they can exist without the others. Ex. Discriminate
without prejudice can be seen in preserving cultural identity in not wanting kids to marry
outside their culture.
• Many things have changed fairly recently that can create a conflict between what we
think and feel and what we should think and feel.
• It is a competition between beliefs and values. • Modern racism: Prejudice directed at other racial groups that exist along-side rejection
of explicitly racist beliefs.
• Experiment: Who will they help, a white or black person? 2 situations, in one, the
participant believes someone else is around to help, in the other, they believe they are the
only person there to help. When they thought they were the only responder, they helped
the black victim slightly more often. When they thought someone else was around to
help, they most often helped the white victim. Happens because they can justify their
actions in choosing the white victim over black by saying that they thought someone else
could better attend to them.
• Study: White individuals evaluated white and black applicants to college. When strengths
and weaknesses were equal, there was no discrimination. When there were unequal
strengths and weaknesses, they focused on the weaknesses for black individuals and on
the strengths for white individuals.
• Opposite result can be observed when the desire to appear unprejudiced is strong. Simply
by reading a statement about how applications processes were biased, it caused this shift.
Benevolent Racism and Sexism
• Stereotypes do not have to be negative to be harmful. Many stereotypes often include
positive and negative aspects (Asians smart/gifted, but cold/rigid).
• Those who hold ambivalent attitudes tend to act positively toward members of the
outgroups only if they fulfill their idealized image of what such people should be like.
Measuring Attitudes about Groups
• Many scales that were made need to be modified because people are unwilling to directly
state their aversion to certain groups.
• Self-report can be falsified and people cannot report on underlying dislike for a group
when they themselves are unaware of it. Therefore indirect measures are used.
The ImplicitAssociation Test (IAT)
• Implicit Association Test (IAT): A technique for revealing non-conscious prejudices
toward particular groups.
• Technique works as such: Images/words flashed on screen and participants are asked to
hit one button or another depending on which rule the image conforms to. (E.g. Weak
word tap left finger, strong word tap right finger in accordance with the following words:
Martha, vigorous, Jason, small, David, etc. Repeat procedure but tap your left finger if it
is a feminine name OR a strong word, and right finger if it is a male name OR a weak
• Respondents would be faster to press one key for members of a particular group and
words stereotypically associated with the group than to press the same key for members
of that group and words that contradict the stereotype associated with that group.
• Asame general idea is showing a picture/word and having to say if it fits better as
positive or negative. The buttons are then switched.
• Most people favour young over old, white over black as evidenced by these tests.
• Brain imaging has been done to corroborate the IAT results.
Priming and Implicit Prejudice
• Priming: A procedure used to increase the accessibility of a concept or schema (for
example, a stereotype). • Priming used to measure prejudices individuals might not know they have, or deny.
• Shown a word/picture then asked if the following arrangements of letters are words. E.g.
See a picture of a nun. If you associate them with virtue and charity, you are more likely
to respond quickly to positive terms. If you have negative association to nuns, you are
more likely to respond quickly to negative words.
The Economic Perspective
• Some of the most intense intergroup tensions arise between groups that vie for the same
• According to the economic view of prejudice and discrimination, groups develop
prejudices about one another and discriminate against one another when they compete for
Realistic Group Conflict Theory
• Realistic group conflict theory: A theory that group conflict, prejudice, and
discrimination are likely to arise over competition between groups for limited resources.
• Therefore prejudice and discrimination increase over periods of economic difficulty.
• Also, groups who stand to lose the most are likely to exhibit even greater prejudice and
• Ethnocentrism: Glorifying one’s own group while vilifying other groups.
• Realistic group conflict theory specifies how conflict is carried out. First, ethnocentrism
develops. Then people starts stereotyping and treating others in a way that goes against
one’s own moral code.At the same time, loyalty towards one’s own group intensifies.
The Robbers Cave Experiment
• Done by Muzafer Sherif and colleagues. 22 fifth grade boys, average in every way and of
the same ethnic groups, were taken to Robbers Cave State Park for 2.5 weeks. They were
separated into 2 groups who initially were unaware of the others existence.
Competition and Intergroup Conflict
• First phase saw activities being engaged in to increase group unity (pitching tents,
preparing meals). Each group saw cohesion develop and each named themselves. They
were named the Eagles and the Rattlers.Ahierarchical structure emerged within the
• In the second phase the groups were brought together for a tournament, where the
winners would receive a medal and highly coveted pocket knife and the losers got
nothing. The tournament lasted 5 days. The tournament was set-up to make the other
group appear to be a foe in the way of their own goals.
• Hostility rose as the groups called each other names. The Eagles captured and burned the
Rattlers’flag, who in turn stole the Eagles flag. Fights broke out in dining areas, raids
were conducted on each other’s cabin, and numerous challenges to engage in physical
fights were issued.
• Within the groups, boys who were more athletically gifted or took an aggressive stance
towards the other group rose in popularity.
• Favouritism shown when the researchers scattered beans about the field and asked the
groups to collect as many as possible in 1 minute for a 5$ reward. They then projected an
amount of beans on a screen saying that that was how many each team had collected, and had each group guess how many were the groups had collected. The beans were shown
for little time, so they couldn’t count and the same amount was shown for both teams.
The boys’estimates revealed clear ingroup favouritism: each group estimated that boys in
their group had collected more beans.
Reducing Intergroup Conflict through Superordinate Goals
• Third phase had to do with reducing conflict between groups.
• They were brought together over a few days in non-competitive settings. This did not
dissipate the hostility.
• Researchers came up with things that could only be solved when the groups worked
together, like inspecting a water pipe to find the disruption for the camps water supply.
Another effort was saying a supply truck had broken down and needed to get to camp.
The researchers left rope around hoping the groups would work together to pull it to
camp. These efforts helped bring them closer together.
• Superordinate goals: Goals that transcend the interests of any one group and that can be
achieved more readily by 2 or more groups working together.
• When the study was completed, the boys insisted on returning to the city on the same bus
as their new friends. When they took a pit stop, the group that won the 5$ spent it on
malted milks that they shared with everyone.
• Lessons: Neither differences in background nor differences in appearance nor prior
histories of conflict are necessary for intergroup hostility to develop.All that is required
is competition for a goal that only one can achieve.Another lesson is that competition
against outsiders often increases group cohesion. Final lesson points to how intergroup
conflict can be diminished. To diminish it, get the groups to work towards a common
Evaluating the Economic Perspective
• The military is an example of phase 3, different groups and cultures are brought together
to train and possibly fight against a common enemy.
• University and college students are more likely to not work well with other groups. The
goal is a good grade, and the curving mark systems of the school mean that other people’s
success can be your failure. Integration efforts on college campuses may therefore be less
Box 11.1 The “Jigsaw” Classroom
• People in classes put into groups of varying ethnicity, gender, race. Each student within
the group has to learn and master one topic then teach it to the others. This reliance on
each other builds relationships among them. Students in jigsaw classrooms like school
more and develop more positive attitudes towards different ethnic groups than do
students in traditional classrooms.
The Motivational Perspective
• Intergroup hostility can develop even in the absence of competition.
• In the Robbers Cave experiment, when the groups first learned of the other, there were
signs of increased ingroup solidarity – this is before they engaged in any competition.
• During phase 1 they were brought within ear shot of the other group and each group
changed how they referred to things, our baseball diamond versus the baseball diamond. The Eagles hadn’t even given themselves a name until they found out there was another
• The existence of group boundaries among any collection of individuals, then, can be
sufficient to initiate group discrimination.
The Minimal Group Paradigm
• Minimal group paradigm: An experimental paradigm in which researchers create groups
based on arbitrary and seemingly meaningless criteria and then examine how the
members of these “minimal groups” are inclined to behave toward one another.
• In this minimal group paradigm, participants first perform a task then they are put into 2
groups based on their performance to that task.
• The task can be as simple as counting the number of dots flashed briefly on a screen, and
being put into groups of overestimators and underestimators. In reality, the people are
randomly assigned to the groups, and they never learn who else is in their group or who is
in the other group.
• The second part of the experiment involves the participants being taken into cubicles and
asked to assign points, redeemable for money, to successive pairs of their fellow
participants. They are asked to assign the money to ‘number 4 of the overestimating
• Options for point allocation are: Relatively equal amounts with slightly more for the
outgroup, maximum ingroup reward but still more for the outgroup, or maximize ingroup
advantage over the outgroup.
• Repetition of these sorts of experiments show that a majority of participants interested
more in maximizing the relative gain for members of the ingroup than in maximizing the
absolute gain for their ingroup.
Social Identity Theory
• The us/them distinction may be one of the basic cuts people make in dividing up and
organizing the world. Though it can’t be a product of cognition alone. For that we need a
motivational theory – a theory to explain why, once us/them distinction is made, we are
treated better than they.
• The motivation can be material or economic, as discussed earlier.
• Social identity theory: A theory that a person’s self-concept and self-esteem derive not
only from personal identity and accomplishments but also from the status and
accomplishments of the various groups to which the person belong.
• E.g. Being an American is an element of the self-concept of mostAmericans, and with it
comes the pride associated with, say, the Bill of Rights, U.S. economic and military clout,
and the accomplishments of American scientists, athletes, and entertainers.Also they feel
the shame associated withAmerican slavery and the treatment of NativeAmericans.
Boosting the Status of the Ingroup
• Feeling better about the group leads us to feel better about ourselves. Therefore we do
what we can to boost the status of the groups to which we belong.
Basking in Reflected Glory
• People go to great lengths to announce their affiliation with their group when it is doing
well. Great example is sports teams. • Basking in reflected glory: The tendency for people to take pride in the accomplishments
of those with whom they are in some way associated, as when fans identify with a
• Looked at how often students wore team colours and school sweatshirts following wins
and losses. Found they were more likely to wear them after wins. They also dissociated
themselves when there was a loss versus a win (“we won” vs. “they lost”).
Derogating Outgroups to Bolster Self-Esteem
• Study: ½ of participants had their self-esteem threatened by telling them they did poorly
on an intelligence test; the other half were told they did well. Participants were asked to
watch a video tape that made it clear to half of them that the person being interviewed for
a job was Jewish. Participants were then asked to rate the participant.Among the
participants whose self-esteem was threatened, those who thought she was Jewish rated
her more negatively that those who were not told she was Jewish; no difference was
found in those whose self-esteem was not threatened.Also, those who had their self-
esteem threatened and had taken it out on the applicant experienced an increase in self-
• Study: Non-black participants were either praised or criticized by a white or black doctor.
Prediction was that the participants would be motivated to cling to the praise they
received but to challenge the criticism – and that they would use the race of their
evaluator to help them do so. Participants took part in a lexical decision task (flash words
and non-words on a screen and have people indicate as fast as they can if they are words)
right after the evaluation with the doctor. If the participants were thinking of their
evaluator primarily as a doctor, they recognized the medical words faster; if they thought
of their evaluator primarily as a black man, they would recognize the words associated
with the black stereotype faster.
• Results: When he criticized them, participants saw him as a black man – something they
did not readily do when he praised them.
• Frustration-aggression theory: A theory that elaborates the idea that frustration leads to
• People are particularly likely to vilify outgroups under conditions that foster frustration
• If pe