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Chapter 11

PS 270 Chapter 11 Notes.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Christine Zaza

Chapter 11 – Sources of Prejudice - Prejudice – a negative prejudgment of a group and its individual members o Is an attitude - Stereotype – a belief about the personal attributes of a group of people o Stereotypes can be overgeneralized, inaccurate, and resistant to new information o To stereotype is to generalize - A problem with stereotypes arises when they are overgeneralized or just plain wrong - Discrimination – unjustifiable negative behaviour toward a group or its members - Racism – (1) an individual’s prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behaviour toward people of a given race, or (2) institutional practices (even if not motivated by prejudice) that subordinate people of a given race - Sexism – (1) an individual’s prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behaviour toward people of a given sex, or (2) institutional practices (even if not motiated by prejudice) that subordinate people of a given sex - Prejudice attitudes seem to surface when they can hide behind the screen of some other motive - Modern prejudice often appears subtly, in our preferences for what is familiar, similar, and comfortable - Prejudice provides one of the best examples of our dual attitude system o We can have differing explicit (conscious) and implicit (automatic) attitudes toward the same target o ‘Implicit cognition’ – what you know without knowing that you know - We may retain from childhood a habitual, automatic fear or dislike of people for whom we now express respect and admiration o Although explicit attitudes may change dramatically with education, implicit attitudes may linger, changing only as we form new habits through practice - A principle to remember: unequal status breeds prejudice - Racial prejudice often begins during times of conflict - Traditionally subordinate Blacks, traditional women, feminine gay men, and people with disabilities tend to be seen as less competent but liked for their emotional, spiritual, artistic, or athletic qualities - In times of conflict, attitudes adjust easily to behaviour o People often view enemies as subhuman and depersonalize them with labels o Attidues are amazingly adaptable - Individual differences in personality also seem to predict how much people justify the status quo - Social Dominance Orientation – a motivation to have your own group be dominant over other social groups o Being in a dominant high-status position also tends to promote this orientation o This desire to be on top leads people high in social dominance to embrace prejudice and to support political positions that justify prejudice o People high in social dominance orientation often support policies that maintain hierarchies o People high in social dominance orientation also prefer professions such as politics and business, which increase their status and maintain hierarchies - Status may breed prejudice, but some people seek to maintain status - Prejudice springs from unequal status, and from other social sources, including our acquired values and attitudes - Children’s automatic racial attitudes reflect their parents’ explicit prejudice - Ethnocentric – believing in the superiority of your own ethnic and cultural group, and having a corresponding disdain for all other groups - Once established, prejudice is maintained largely by intertia o If prejudice is socially accepted, many people will follow the path of least resistance and conform to the fashion o They will act not so much out of a need to hate as out of a need to be liked and accepted - Conformity also maintains gender prejudice - Children who have seen women elsewhere – children of employed women – have less stereotyped views of men and women - If prejudice is not deeply ingrained in personality, then as fashions change and new norms evolve, prejudice can diminish - Social institutions reinforce dominant cultural attitudes - Insitutional supports for prejudice are often unintended and unnoticed - The visual prominence given the faces of men and, relatively speaking, the bodies of women both reflects and perpetuates gender bias - The people whose faces are prominent in photos seem more intelligent and ambitious - Motivation underlies both the hostilities of prejudice and the desire to be unbiased - Frustration can feed prejudice o People are also motivated to avoid prejudice - Pain and frustration (the blocking of a goal) often evoke hostility o When the cause of our frustration is intimidating or vague, we often redirect our hostility  This phenomenon of ‘displaced aggression’ - Ethnic peace is easier to maintain during prosperous times - Competition is an important source of frustration that can fuel prejudice - Realistic Group Conflict Theory – the theory that prejudice arises from competition between groups for scarce resources - Frustrated people express relatively high levels of blatant prejudice o When interests class, prejudice may be the result - We also define ourselves by our groups - Self concept – our sense of who we are – contains not just a personal identity but also a social identity - We find it useful to put people, ourselves included, into categories - In-Group – ‘us’ – a group of people who share a sense of belonging, a feeling of common identity o We associate ourselves with certain groups and gain self esteem by doing so - Out-Group – ‘them’ – a group that people perceive as distinctively different from or apart from their in- group o We contrast our groups with other groups with a favourable bias toward our own groups - Having a sense of ‘we-ness’ strengthens our self-concept - We seek not only respect for ourselves but pride in our groups o Seeing our groups as superior helps us feel even better - Lacking a positive personal identity, people often seek self-esteem by identifying with a group - The group definition of who you are implis a definition of who you are not o The circle that includes ‘us’ excludes ‘them’ - In-Group Bias – the tendency to favour your own group o Has one more exmpale of the human quest for a positive self-concept o We are so group conscious that given any excuse to think of ourselves as a group we will do so – and will then exhibit in-group bias o We are more prone to in-gorup bias when our group is small and lower in status relative to the out-group - When we’re part of a small group surrounded by a larger group, we are conscious of our group membership; when our in-group is the majority, we think less about it - Because of our social identifications, we conform to our group norms
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