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The Norton Psychology Labs

Chapter 11

  1. Stereotypes are generalizations about groups that are often applied to individual group members. Prejudice involves a negative attitude and emotional response to members of a group. Discrimination involves negative behavior toward an individual because of the person's membership in a group.

  2. Blatant, explicit racism in much of the world is now relatively rare. But more subtle modern racism does exist, whereby people may hold overtly egalitarian attitudes and values while at the same time unconsciously having negative attitudes and exhibiting more subtle forms of prejudice toward members of certain groups. Benevolent racism and sexism consist of attitudes the individual thinks of as favorable toward a group but that have the effect of supporting traditional, subservient roles for members of oppressed groups.

  3. In recent years, there have been successful efforts to measure people's true attitudes with measures that are not easy to fake. One of these is the implicit association test, which compares reaction times when grouping outgroup pictures (or words) and positive items together, with reaction times when grouping outgroup pictures (or words) and negative items together. Another implicit measure involves priming with a picture of a member of some group. If the prime increases the time it takes to recognize subsequently presented positive words, and decreases the time it takes to recognize subsequently presented negative words, this is an indication of prejudice toward the group.

  4. We discussed three different approaches to prejudice and discrimination: the economic perspective, the motivational perspective, and the cognitive perspective.

  5. One version of the economic perspective on prejudice and discrimination is realistic group conflict theory, which reflects the fact that groups are sometimes in competition for scarce resources and that this can lead to prejudice and discrimination. The classic Robbers Cave experiment put two groups of boys in competition at a camp. Soon the boys were expressing open hostility toward one another. When the boys were brought together in noncompetitive situations where they had to cooperate to achieve super-ordinate goals—that is, goals that could only be achieved when the two groups worked together— the hostility dissipated.

  6. The motivational perspective on prejudice and discrimination reflects the sad fact that sometimes poor relations between groups occur simply because there are two groups and a we/they opposition results. This occurs even in the minimal group paradigm, wherein people find out they are members of one of two groups that have been defined in a trivial and arbitrary way. They will favor members of their own group over members of the other group, even when it actually costs their group something to "beat" the opposition.

  7. Social identity theory attempts to explain ingroup favoritism, maintaining that self-esteem is derived from group membership and group success.

  8. Frustration-aggression theory accounts for some of the most dangerous behavior toward outgroups. When people are frustrated in their attempt to reach some goal—for example, the goal of economic prosperity— they often lash out at less powerful individuals or groups. Challenges to a person's self-esteem can have similar effects, and experiments have shown that people express more antagonism toward outgroup members when they have suffered a blow to their self-esteem.

  9. The cognitive perspective on prejudice and discrimination focuses on stereotypes, which are a form of categorization. People rely on them all the time, but especially when they are tired or overloaded.

  10. Several construal processes lead to the construction of inaccurate stereotypes. Because we know our own groups best, we tend to assume that outgroups are more homogeneous than ours are. We also often engage in biased information processing, seeing those aspects of other groups that confirm our stereotypes and failing to see facts that are inconsistent with them. Moreover, we often unknowingly create self-fulfilling prophecies—applying stereotypes to members of outgroups and then behaving toward them in such a way as to bring out the very behaviors that fit our stereotypes.

  11. Distinctive groups (because they are in the minority) tend to be associated with distinctive (because they are rare) behaviors. This sort of paired distinctiveness results in our attributing properties to groups that are illusory.

  12. Encountering contradictory evidence about groups may not change our ideas about them because we treat the evidence as if it were merely an exception that proves the rule. We tend to code favorable evidence about ingroup members at high levels of generality and the same sort of evidence about outgroup members at low levels of generality. The converse is true for unfavorable evidence. Moreover, behavior consistent with a stereotype is often attributed to the dispositions of the group members, whereas behavior that is inconsistent with a stereotype is often attributed to the situation.

  13. We sometimes respond to outgroup members reflexively, relying on automatic processes wherein prejudice is unleashed outside of our awareness. Sometimes these automatic negative reactions can be corrected by conscious, controlled processes.

  14. Members of stigmatized groups suffer not just from prejudice and discrimination but also from attributional ambiguity. They have to ask whether others' negative or positive behavior toward them is due to prejudice or to some factor having nothing to do with their group membership.

  15. The performance of members of stigmatized groups can also be impaired by stereotype threat—that is, the fear that one will confirm the stereotypes that others have regarding some salient group of which one is a member.