Since Martin Luther King Jr. gave his speech, race relations have improved. We find ourselves ‘modern’ and ‘civilized’, when it comes to racial questions and can’t believe that fifty years ago things were so different. Still, things are not so optimistic as they seem. There still are racial tensions in modern countries. In some countries there seems to be a double standard. Blacks, for example, get a harsher punishment than Whites for the same crime. One research also showed that the darker a person is, the bigger his punishment will be.
Race is an important factor in psychological research (just as sex and age). That’s obvious because that’s one of the first things we see when we meet someone. Taking in information about the race, age and sex is an automatic process and we (therefore) make assumptions on the basis of this information. This can lead to stereotyping. This text specifically says can, because sometimes people view others through the lens of race and sometimes they don’t. For example, in 1988 a centre was opened in an all white neighbourhood in Indianapolis. Convicted child molesters were supposed to be treated in that centre. Not one resident complained about this centre. When authorities decided to change the centre into a homeless centre for veterans and some of these veterans turned out to be black, the neighbourhood started complaining.
Views of social groups can change quickly. After 9/11, Americans started to have an extreme negative view of people from the Middle East. There was an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes and violence against mosques. The ‘biggest’ example of changing views of social groups is probably people’s view of Italian immigrants. When the Italian immigrants came to the United States in the early 1900s, they were ridiculed. They were even seen as non-Whites. Italians, Jews from Eastern Europe and people from Ireland who came to the States were seen as another race back in the days while they were all white. Nowadays, these people are seen as being white and immigrants from Europe don’t find disadvantages from their ethnical background anymore.
Culture and race
Usually when you ask somebody to determine what race another person is, he or she will base the answer on the skin colour of that person. Why do we base this on the skin colour and not on another physical characteristic?
The word ‘race’ was not used until the 1600s and in that time it had another meaning than it has now. Race referred to any group of people with the same characteristics, like a group of nurses, teachers or doctors. In the late 1700s the word ‘race’ took on the meaning it has now, namely indicating groups of people that share common physical characteristics, like skin colour.
This shift in meaning began when Europeans were sailing the seas and discovering other continents. The native inhabitants of the continents (Africans, Asians and native Americans) had a different skin colour from the Europeans. The racial categories were used to ‘prove’ the superiority of Europeans and justifying their actions against the other races.
Race is a social category and not a biological one. Scientists find more differences within a racial group than between racial groups. People often say that black people or Latin people have bigger lips than white people, but this is superficial and not a reliable way to distinguish between groups of people. These differences in skin colour, hair colour and other features are adaptations to the climate (because Africa is so warm, the people developed a darker skin). When racial segregation in the United States was legal, people could change their racial classification because race was defined by law. Over the years, 63 racial categories existed. Race could never be changed by law if it were a biological fact. This only shows that there is just one race: the human race. Race is a set of social categories and is therefore an important psychological subject. Race plays a huge part in cultures. The people from one culture share attitudes, beliefs and behaviour with one another and that’s why culture can influence stereotyping. People usually don’t know that they operate according to their cultural background. Their actions are (unconsciously) driven by cultural expectations.
Cultural impact on stereotyping may lead to group privileges. White people, for example, don’t think a lot about their race. This is because they are the dominant group in the society and everything they believe or do seems normal to them. When Whites buy a car or house, their race doesn’t play a huge role. When Blacks have a really good job, Whites are kind of surprised by that. They don’t expect Blacks to have had a really high education. Privileges for groups are not limited to race. Men usually are privileged over women and heterosexuals over homosexuals. When one group gets an unearned favoured state because of their race, gender or social class we call this ‘group privilege’. One group has certain advantages over the other group(s) and the members of that group usually don’t really know that they have an advantage over the other groups. These advantages are usually unearned; they are not handed to people who worked hard for it, but to people who belong to a certain group. Some people might think that the advantages one certain group gets are small and don’t have a huge impact. But all these little advantages have a big impact together. Every disadvantage against a person will hurt his or her self-esteem. Members of the privileged group usually think that discrimination is someone else’s problem and that they don’t have to do anything about it. So basically, discrimination is a problem for Blacks, gays and women.
Lippman gave a great definition of stereotypes. He said that stereotypes are pictures in our head, not based on certain knowledge but made by oneself. Lippman’s definition still fits the definition of what we call stereotypes. Stereotypes are beliefs and opinions about certain groups. Stereotypes are pictures in our head that can come from shared beliefs we got from our culture. These beliefs can be learned from parents, friends, media and books. People also get beliefs by observing the world.
Stereotypes are not always completely false; they may be based partly on truth (from observation). But this truth may be exaggerated and used on all members of certain groups. Then there are really ‘stupid’ stereotypes. People once thought that if women were to be educated, the blood would rush to their brains and it would reduce their reproductive capacities. Another aspect of stereotypes is that they can also be prescriptive. They tell us what group members should be like. So when we think about educators at the elementary school, we usually think about women and not men. Stereotypes can also be positive. An example of a positive stereotype is that Asians are high achievers or that men are good with reasoning. But don’t think that stereotypes are not as bad as they seem. Even positive stereotypes can have negative consequences. One example is that women are good with children and that they would make good elementary school teachers. This positive stereotype has a negative effect on men who want to become elementary school teachers.
If stereotypes are bad, why did we start using them? Well, we use stereotypes to organize the complex social world around us. We would otherwise have too much information to deal with and that’s why we use stereotypes.
Prejudice is the reaction or attitude towards people of certain groups. The reactions towards certain people can stem from emotions, either good or bad. These emotions are usually automatic and rise without conscious consideration. One group might react to the other if the other group threatens their own group or if the other group is interfering with their goals (especially competition between jobs). But the other group may also be seen as threatening because it has other goals. Emotional reactions can also be caused by a reaction with other group members. People would feel disgusted when they interact with foreigners or gays. Also, emotional reactions can also be constantly there. There are people who are always intolerant of other social groups.
People who think of themselves as not being prejudiced, might unconsciously be prejudiced. Usually these feelings are not extreme but feelings of unease and anxiety. These people don’t want to be prejudiced, but learned these things from their social background.
Discrimination is treating people differently because they are member of a certain group. This does not have to be a negative treatment. Just as with prejudice and stereotyping, there could also be positive discrimination. That’s treating people better because of their group membership. Discrimination can manifest itself in different ways. It can be verbally and behaviourally. People from certain groups can be ignored, made fun of, be insulted, intimidated and assaulted.
Interpersonal discrimination is when one person gets treated unfairly by another because of the person’s group membership. This occurs from the person-to-person level. This may occur because the assaulters hold certain stereotypic beliefs. This leads people to think (and behave) that their own group is superior to the other. This can be passive, like personally ignoring Blacks and helping Whites first or it can be active, by making mean remarks.
Organizational discrimination is the discrimination that occurs at the workplace and is caused by the company itself. Usually this is racial or gender discrimination. White men are over represented as managers and white women and minority groups are underrepresented. Women are over represented in clerical jobs and men in skilled jobs (like electricians). Minority men are over represented as labourers (working in a factory) and white men are over represented in the prestigious jobs. People may argue that these findings are misleading, because minority workers didn’t have the same chances as white people did. One research, however, showed that white people get paid more than black and Hispanic people, even if they all have the same degree of education and the exact same job. White men were paid better than any other group, except the group of Asian men.
Institutional discrimination is the type of discrimination that occurs when the norms or policies of a social institution (like family, education and criminal justice system) result in different outcomes for members of one group than for another group. Usually, decisions are made that are neutral to sexual orientation, sex and race but they end up having an impact on a certain group. This type of discrimination usually occurs subtle. Examples of this type of discrimination are the segregation of schools and the events that occurred when hurricane Katrina came to New Orleans. Some people said that the United States president of that time, George W. Bush, did not enough to help the people in New Orleans because they were mostly Blacks.
Cultural discrimination is when a certain group retains the power within a culture and decides what the cultural values should be. They reward people who hold these values and punish people who have different cultural values. The culture of minority groups is in danger that way. Cultural discrimination can occur in subtle ways, like in advertisement or toys. Dolls usually are white and blond and have European features. It kind of tells us that the more European someone looks, the more beautiful he or she is. One research showed that even Blacks perceived people with a lighter skin as being more attractive than people with a darker skin. This can have serious outcomes. Black people convicted of murdering a white person are more likely to get the death penalty if they have black (stereotypical) features.
There are governments that endorse cultural discrimination. In Australia part-Aboriginal children were taken from their homes and put in schools miles and miles from their parental home. The government did this, because it thought that by not having a lot of contact with the Aboriginal culture, these children would ‘loose’ their Aboriginal side and would behave according to the white culture. The characteristics of their white ancestry were valued, but the characteristics of their Aboriginal side were not.
It is really hard to recognize cultural and institutional discrimination and especially by those who are not affected by it.
Relationship among stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination
The relationship between these three things is complex. Knowing something about stereotypical beliefs does not mean that you are prejudiced. A research showed that low-prejudiced and high-prejudiced individuals knew the same things about a certain stereotype, but the low-prejudiced people rejected that stereotype while the high-prejudiced people accepted it. As said before, people learn these stereotypic beliefs from the media, friends and family, but it does not mean that they accept it.
A bigger problem is that people can access stereotypes unconsciously and that even people who are low in prejudice can be influenced by this. Luckily, people who are aware that prejudice is wrong and try to eliminate their prejudice can do so successfully.
People usually categorize race-related information like they categorize gender-related information. Specific targets of prejudice are usually described with the word ‘ism’, like sexism and racism. Isms are not the same as prejudice. They go further. Isms have certain characteristics, with the first characteristic being that they combine prejudice with a group-centred worldview. This leads to a superiority of one group over the other. The second characteristic is that isms are based on the desire to control other groups. This is done by law and social issues and these groups try to prove scientifically that their ideas are valid. The last characteristic is that isms are reflected on behaviour. This can be done by hate crimes, by making jokes /verbally assaulting others or by ignoring others.
When people hear the word prejudice, they usually think of discrimination. Most research on racial prejudice focuses on anti-black discrimination. This is not weird, because Blacks were treated really badly during the ‘slave period’ and even after that. They were seen as the bottom of society and even seen as lesser than human. Although other minority groups have been treated badly, Blacks had to suffer the most. Also, anti-black prejudice is more pervasive than prejudice against other groups. That’s also a reason why psychologists focus on Blacks. The third reason why psychologists focus on Blacks is that the prejudice has changed. It used to be extreme and since the 1980s it reached a more subtle form.
Nowadays, racism manifests itself in different ways in the United States. One way by which it manifests itself is by denigrating the other group’s culture. Rap music is usually identified with Black culture and is condemned in the United States. But one might wonder if this is because the violent and sexist lyrics or because it’s part of the Black culture.
One study gave a set of violent lyrics to a group of white adults. The lyrics were from a folk song and one group was told that the lyrics were from a rap song, the second group was told that the lyrics were from a country song and the third group was told that the lyrics were from a folk song. When the song was labelled as a rap song, it got the most negative ratings. Also, when people learned that the song was performed by a Black person it got more negative ratings than a song performed by a white person. Another example is that minority groups are pulled over more frequently than white drivers. This is because people think that minorities are more likely to commit a crime (like drug trafficking).
Prejudice based on religion has existed for a very long time, but has been studied less than racial prejudice. This is maybe because prejudice based on religion has been less salient. During World War II anti-Semitism became salient and when the anti-Muslim prejudice rose, researchers started to research religious prejudice.
Although the United States is a wealthy nation, it still has some poverty and different social classes. A person’s place in the social hierarchy is determined by one’s economic status, racial group or religious group. Classism (therefore) is prejudice against a person’s social class. Usually people hold negative views against the poor and positive views against the wealthy. Poor people are more too often blamed for their situation. They are seen as lazy and not very intelligent and that’s the reason why they are poor (at least, this is what prejudiced people think).
Researchers bought fruit from a supermarket in a low socio-economic status neighbourhood, a middle class neighbourhood and an upper class neighbourhood. Participants had to evaluate the fruit for taste and appearance and they said that fruit from a low socio-economic neighbourhood was less fresh than the fruit from the other neighbourhoods. Some people even refused to taste the fruit from the low class neighbourhood. These results show there’s a strong relationship between social class and race: low status neighbourhoods have a higher percentage of minority residents than the other neighbourhoods.
Gender and sexuality
Women were (sometimes still are) portrayed as weak and vulnerable. This is used against them: their social roles in society are limited. Hostile sexists belief women demand special treatment and that they are (therefore) allowed to treat them badly or harass them. Heterosexism is the belief that relationships and communities should only be heterosexual. This leads to prejudice against homosexuals or bisexuals. This is also called homophobia. Heterosexism seems to be more socially acceptable than other forms of prejudice.
Age, appearance and ability
Ageism refers to negative reactions to older people. Ageism has almost invisible forms of discrimination. Physicians sometimes don’t take a good look at old people’s age problems because they think every old person has some health issues. They let them go home without even checking them adequately.
People with disabilities are also ridiculed. People feel sympathy for them, but also feel discomfort when they are in their presence. The media also paints a negative picture about people with disabilities and this is probably the reason that kids with disabilities have a hard time making friends and have a low self-esteem.
Physical appearance can also be a source of prejudice, especially against fat people. People who are prejudiced against fat people often think it’s their own fault that they are fat. They are lazy and have no self-discipline. Also, prejudiced people dislike others who violate values. One value people hold dear is self-restraint. They often think that fat people violate this rule.
Theories of prejudice
There are a lot of theories of prejudice, but not one covers the whole deal. Each theory usually covers one aspect of prejudice.
Sometimes research results are interpreted to show minority groups in a negative light. Scientific racism was used to prove the superiority of the dominant group and to justify their actions against other groups. Before the 1920s scientists agreed that Whites were superior to Blacks. They showed that Whites were more intelligent than Blacks. The actions of Whites against Blacks were justified that way.
In the 1920s scientists saw that prejudice wasn’t natural and that it’s a social problem, created by wrong beliefs. In the 1930s and 1940s social scientists searched for the reason why people turn to prejudice. They found their answer in the psychodynamic theory and found that people tended to blame the bad situations of that time (like the Great Depression) on somebody. They had to direct their frustration towards somebody and decided to do this toward minority groups.
After World War II scientists tried to figure out how scientists could support something like the Holocaust. They found that there are certain types of individuals who are more susceptible to prejudice than others. Adorno found that type of person: the authoritarian personality. These people are more likely to do and believe what authority figures tell them. This type of personality rooted in early childhood. Children who had to obey strict rules and were physical punished were more likely to develop an authoritarian personality. The psychodynamic perspective also shows that prejudice is used to improve one’s self-esteem.
In the late 1950s the U.S. civil rights movement arose and scientists started to view prejudice and stereotyping from a sociocultural perspective. The sociocultural perspective sees stereotypes as something that culture gives and that can’t be taken away easily. There are two underlying perspectives in this model: the structural-functionalist view and the conflict perspective. The first perspective thinks that people use/learn the culture’s stereotypes to gain social acceptance. The conflict perspective believes that a society exists out of groups with different values and that people adopt the viewpoint of their particular subgroup. The conflict perspective allows different attitudes toward a certain group.
An upcoming theory about stereotypes is the sociocultural theory. This theory thinks that from observing certain groups in social settings, we learn their roles and base our stereotypes on them. Nurses are usually women and we think that nurses are kind and concerned for others. That’s why we think that all women are kind and concerned for others.
Intergroup relations theory
The sociocultural perspective evolved into an intergroup relations theory. This theory thinks that prejudice derives from the competition between groups. The relative deprevation theory is an example of the intergroup relations theory. This theory thinks that prejudice is the result of the resentment people feel when they think that their group has been deprived of certain resources and that another group receives their resources. Some Whites might think that Blacks get more than a fair share of the resources and might be angry at Blacks because of this. More recent research shows that people’s own identities play a big part in stereotyping. According to the social identity theory, people want to have a positive self-identity. A big part of one’s identity is made up of a group identity. People need to feel positively about the group they belong to, to reach this identity. The way to do this is to see one’s own group better than other groups.
In the 1980s the cognitive theory played a huge part. The reason why psychologists moved to the cognitive theory was that everybody started to believe that prejudice was universal and inevitable and that social structural explanations could not account for this. Also, cognitive psychology became really popular in that time and so psychologists tried to find an explanation for prejudice in that field. According to the cognitive theory, stereotyping is a process people use to reduce a complex stimulus to a manageable level. Human beings use this to understand the massive amount of information that is given to them every day. A mechanism that is often used is simplification. It is much easier for our mind to think that every member of a certain group is the same than to think that every member is a complex individual. Stereotypes might be very helpful and don’t need to be bad. However, stereotypes might have negative outcomes.
The evolutionary theory tries to explain universal processes underlying prejudice and discrimination. Evolution is all based upon mechanisms fulfilling functions that promote the transmission of a certain gene. Relatives decided to work together so their genes would have more chance to be passed on to the next generation. This is called ‘kin favouritism’. When societies started to develop, people began working together with non-relatives. They did this, because sometimes working with others helps the survival of one’s own genes, like hunting together. People developed cues to distinguish with whom it was safe to work together and whom not to work together (because this person might not return the favour). The people who were perceived as potentially dangerous, were avoided, disliked and competed against. Although evolutionary psychology is new, psychologists from this field have found explanations for stereotyping. People wanted to protect their families from dangerous individuals and they evolved fear for strangers. Prejudice was a by-product of this. Outgroups are rejected because they may pose a threat towards the ingroup.
There is a lot of evidence for the evolutionary theory. Scientists have found that distinguishing between groups, favouring members of one’s group and believing that one’s group is better than others is universal. Also, it is found all over the world that people classify things into categories. There are, however, also problems with the evolutionary approach. The first one is that the evolutionary theory suggests that people always protect their kin. Research, however, has pointed out that women and children who were raped by somebody from the outgroup, were killed by their own group members. Another point can be made against evolutionary theory, is that it can’t explain why prejudice doesn’t occur always. An example of this is the frequent contact between the Romans and Black Africans. There was no prejudice against these groups. Evolutionary psychology can’t explain why racial prejudice is not present in certain cultures.
It is important to keep in mind that even if the evolutionary point of view is true, prejudice is not excusable!
A chapter about research is important, because research informs us of what stereotyping and prejudice are. It gives us information with which we can make theories and try to find explanations for certain things. Research can also help testing theories and predicting behaviour and to see whether/ how well certain interventions work.
The research process
In the behavioural sciences the goal of research is to find out why people behave differently from each other and which factors limit or push certain behaviours.
Researchers compose their research questions out of theories. Theories have certain links between variables. A variable is a characteristic that varies across people. Sex is a variable: some people are male and other people are female. Variables don’t just differ from person to person; they can also differ across time and situation. One person might be very prejudiced against Blacks, but then years later this person might be less prejudiced against them (because he had more encounters/ experience with Blacks). Also, people might be more prejudiced when a lot of things are going on in their head or when they’re distracted than when they have the time to think carefully about a certain person. The proposed links among variables are called postulates. These postulates can be based on research, observations, experiences, speculations or a combination of these things. Theories can change because postulates may or may not be correct. Hypotheses are theoretical postulates that can/will be tested in research. Hypotheses are usually based on abstract concepts (like prejudice). If you want to test certain abstract concepts, you must use operational definitions. These are observable, concrete representations of hypothetical constructs. Questionnaires that contain questions about self-esteem are directly observable indexes of someone’s self-esteem. The scores on the questions give a good view of someone’s self-esteem. There are different ways to measure self-esteem (or other concepts) and the researcher needs to find which one suites him/her best.
Sometimes researchers don’t measure variables, but manipulate them. One research showed that challenging someone’s worldview makes him/her more prejudiced. Worldview is linked to self-esteem and if you challenge someone’s worldview, he or she will get anxious. This person will be more prejudiced, because having negative views about others gives a person more self-esteem. The way researchers made people more anxious was by having people think about their own death. They manipulated anxiety that way.
When a researcher has chosen the operational definitions, hypotheses become predictions.
After the data has been collected, researchers have to draw conclusions. They want to see if there’s support for their hypotheses. This can be answered very easily if the data are quantitative. If a relationship is found, there are two explanations for this. The first one is that the relationship exists and the second one is that an error occurred in research. With the help of statistics, one can figure out if an error occurred or whether there is a real relationship. Quantitative data are analysed by looking for patterns of responses of behaviour.
When the data has been analysed, researchers need to figure out what it means. If researchers have found that men score higher on measures of prejudice than women, what does this mean? Because there can be different possibilities. Some researchers might say that testosterone has an effect on prejudice. Others say that social norms teach males to be more prejudiced than females. So it all depends on the different theoretical orientation and the psychologist’s background. So how do we know which explanation is the correct one? This is quite difficult, because some explanations can be tested easily (like the testosterone explanation) and others can’t. Also, there could be more than one explanation.
To ensure the accuracy of the results, one could verify the results. One way to do this, is to redo the study using the same measures and to see if the same results will occur. This is exact replication. The other way to redo the study is with different measures or participants with different characteristics. This is called conceptual replication. Generalizability is an important issue in psychology and if a relationship between self-esteem and prejudice is found, it should be found every time and with every questionnaire/ way you measure self-esteem and prejudice.
When everything has been examined and researchers are confident about their findings, they have to see if it fits their initial hypothesis. If it doesn’t fit, the hypothesis should be revised. When everything is finished, researchers can start using their hypotheses and see how well the theory works in certain settings. If a certain application did not work, researchers should put certain questions to the theory.
The next part will give an overview of research strategies that psychologists use.
Researchers measure two or more variables and look for certain relationships among them. One way to do this is by survey research. In this type of research, people are asked questions about their attitudes, beliefs, opinions, personality and behaviour. Researchers need to find people to use for their study. This is called sampling. There are two ways of sampling. The first one is probability sampling. First the researchers need to think of what their research population is. To whom do they want to apply their results? From this population a sample is drawn. In this sample, all of the characteristics of the population (age, ethnicity) are represented. The sample accurately reflects the population and is reliable.
Probability sampling also has a downside. It is very expansive to contact all those people. Also, probability sampling usually uses telephone interviews and therefore not every question could be asked.
A lot of researchers also use convenience sampling. The sample exists of people from whom the researchers can easily collect data. Data can be gathered quickly and easily and a lot of questions can be asked. On the other side, with the convenience sampling it is hard to know how well the sample represents any given population. Researchers must be cautious about drawing conclusions.
The relationship between two variables is often described by a statistic that is known as the correlation coefficient, r. This consists of a number and a sign. The number can be a value between 0 and 1 and the sign can be a – or a +. The sign indicates the direction of the relationship. A plus indicates a positive relationship and a minus a negative one. Positive means that when the value of one variable increases, the other also increases. A negative relationship means that when the value of one variable increases, the value of the other decreases.
The number indicates the strength of the relationship. Zero indicates no relationship at all and one indicates a perfect relationship. Correlations between 0.1 and 0.3 are small, between 0.3 and 0.5 are moderate and greater than 0.5 are large.
Finding a relationship between two variables doesn’t mean that one variable is causing the other. For causality, three criteria have to be met. The first one is covariation. This means that the causal variable is related to the effect variable. If the cause is present, the effect should also be present. The second criterion is the time precedence. The cause needs to come before the effect. It is sometimes hard to figure this out in correlational research, because all variables are measured together. The third criterion is the absence of alternative variables for the effect. When the number of ice creams consumed increases, the number of burglaries also increases. Does this means that ice creams are responsible for the increase in burglaries? No, there is a third variable. Ice creams are usually eaten when it’s hot outside. When it’s hot, people go outside or on vacation and that’s when thieves usually strike. To figure out which variable is responsible for the effect, researchers must eliminate (control) other variables. However, it is hard to control for every single variable.
Correlational research can’t establish time precedence of a cause or eliminate alternative variables of explanation and thus correlational research is no causal research.
To establish causality, researchers conduct experiments. In experiments, the three criteria for causality are met. The proposed cause is called the independent variable and the proposed effect is called the dependent variable. Researchers need to manipulate the independent variable, they do this by creating two or more conditions. All these conditions represent a different aspect of the independent variable.
Experiments can be conducted in different settings:
Laboratory experiments: In this type of experiment, researchers have a high degree of control. Researchers can meet almost every criterion for causality. The down-side to a laboratory experiment is that it loses the natural setting. Because of the artificial setting, researchers have to wonder whether the found effects will also have been found in naturalistic settings.
Field experiments: If you want more naturalistic settings, you have to conduct a field experiment. Researchers manipulate an independent variable in a natural setting. This way they try to keep as much control as possible over the situation and try to keep it as natural as they can. Field experiments, however, are difficult to conduct. One can’t have a very high degree of naturalism and control together. You have to give some from the one up to the other.
Experiments within surveys: both laboratory and field experiments use convenience samples. It is much too expensive to do a probability sample in the laboratory and not a lot of people would want to participate. Researchers, however, can do a probability sample by conducting experiments as part of surveys. There have to be different parts of the survey, to represent the different conditions of the independent variable. This type of experiment gives the researchers more security about generalizing the results to the population as a whole. A down-side to this type of research is that only a couple of independent variables can be used. These are only the variables that can be manipulated by changing the question. Also, naturalism is low in this type of experiment.
Individual difference variables within experiments: A study does not only have manipulated experimental variables, it can also have non-manipulated individual difference variables, like personality traits.
Ethnographic research tries to understand behaviour by observing behaviour, conducting interviews and studying behaviour in a context. This type of research concentrates on naturalism and not really on control. This type of research finds a participant’s point of view much more important than manipulating experiments.
Researchers from this type of research area don’t study people, but objects people create. Examples of these are documents, artworks and photographs. Researchers can study websites to figure the ideals of certain groups out.
As you have probably noticed, every type of research has it pros and cons. Researchers like to have data connected from different methods. If the data from these methods points to the same conclusion, a researcher can be quite sure that his/her conclusion is the right one.
Measuring stereotypes and prejudice
Measuring certain things can be difficult, because some things can only be measured indirectly. Researchers therefore need to know for sure that their methods are accurate. They can do this by looking at reliability and validity.
Reliability means that every time a measure is used with the same person, the same results are provided. This is a certain stability across time. Although characteristics can change over time, they do so slowly. So a person’s racial attitude now and in a month will be pretty much the same.
There are two types of reliability that are often used. The first one is the test-retest reliability. This means that researchers let a group of people do the same test two times. The time between the tests could be weeks, a month or a couple of months. They then look at the correlation between these tests. The higher the correlation, the more reliable the measure will be. The second type is internal consistency. This means that every item that measures a certain characteristic will be answered in the same way. If people have negative attitudes about something, they should answer every item about this thing negatively. With the help of statistics researchers measure the consistency of the response. The two types of reliability are usually correlated. So a measure that is internally consistent is also likely to be consistent over time.
A measure might be consistent, but it does not mean that it measures the characteristic that it’s supposed to measure. Validity means that a measure assesses the characteristics that it’s supposed to assess assesses different aspects of this characteristic and only measures this characteristic. If researchers want to measure racial attitude, they should find certain questions that only measure racial attitudes and not a person’s general positive or negative attitude towards people in general. There are also two types of validity that will be discussed here: convergent validity and discriminant validity. The first one means that scores on a measure correlate with the score of a measure of the same or related characteristic. These scores also relate with behaviours that are related to the characteristic. Discriminant validity discriminates between characteristics. It tells researchers to what extent a measure does not access characteristics that it is not supposed to assess. For example, this type of validity is used to see if people are not really prejudiced or if they just want to give social desirable answers.
There are different types of measures used to measure a characteristic.
The method that is used the most to assess stereotypes is the self-report. People are asked stuff about their opinions and attitudes. There are different questionnaires researchers use to assess prejudice.
The Katz and Braly checklist is used widely and it has questions about certain characteristics and the respondent needs to write if he/she thinks that a certain group of people has these characteristics. When a researcher uses a checklist consistently, he/she can see how stereotypes change over time. A downside of using a checklist is that it needs to be up-to-date. Stereotypes change over time, so checklists need to change over time too. Also, researchers need to remember that there are social stereotypes (that’s what the culturally shared beliefs are) and personal beliefs (what individuals personally believe). One person might know that the social belief about a certain group is negative, but his or her own belief might be positive. Stereotypes can also be assessed by asking people how likely or unlikely they think that certain groups/group members have certain characteristics. A third way to assess stereotypes is by free response measures. Respondents are asked to write down a couple of characteristics about a group and say if those characteristics are positive or negative.
Prejudice can be assessed by questionnaires. Emotional response can be assessed by just asking how people feel when they interact with those groups. Behaviour towards certain groups can also be assessed by questionnaires. In those questionnaires there are questions about how many times the respondent has performed a certain behaviour against members of a certain group or what they would do against members of a certain group.
Self-report measures are efficient, a lot of people can fill them in at the same time and these questions are easy to administer. They also can cover a lot of topics. The negative side about self-report measures is that people can lie about their actual opinions and behaviour. The best thing to do is to secure anonymity. People are more willing to tell the truth when they can stay anonymous.
These measures give the impression that they don’t have to do something with prejudice. The measures used are behaviour and judgement. In these types of measures people really look what someone does (and not says about his behaviour). They usually do this with helping or sitting distance. People who are prejudiced against Blacks are less willing to help them and will sit further from them.
These types of measures assess changes in the body’s responses (like the heart rate) to a stimulus. This can be used to see if somebody has a positive or negative attitude towards a certain person and to see how intense this is. A big advantage of these types of measures is that they are not really controllable, so people can’t fake them. It is also usually a valid method. The downside is that it’s expensive.
Implicit cognition measures
One could implicitly assess a certain characteristic. When you prime somebody, he or she will activate concepts associated with the category you primed. When something is primed it is more accessible in the mind and it is easier to recognize for the person. These measures are good, because people don’t know that they have been primed and thus can’t hide their actual feelings. The downside is that such studies have to be done in an environment where there’s not much distraction. So they are usually limited to lab settings.
There are usually low correlations between scores on self-report measures and physiological, behavioural and implicit measures. How can this be, given the fact that measures of same constructs should be related (if they’re valid)? The point is, when people can, they will usually control a behaviour that makes them look bad. This will usually happen on self-report measures. Implicit measures usually find the correct attitude, because respondents can’t hide behaviours they are not aware of.
A good way to study prejudice is by using multiple measures. If the results from these different measures point in the same direction, we can be quite sure that our results are valid. Also, by using different measures the strength of one measure can compensate for the limitations of another. Another reason why multiple measures should be used for assessing prejudice is that prejudice has different aspects and by using different measures, one could assess all these aspects. It is also important to use different measures because it is not only important to look at the uncontrollable expressions, but also to the controllable expressions. One might want to know under what circumstances people try to control their expressions or prejudice.
Human beings categorize the world because they want to simplify it. They create categories on the basis of characteristics. People are placed into social groups on the basis of characteristics they have in common. After creating social groups, beliefs about these groups are created. With these beliefs, people guide their future interactions with individual group members. Keep in mind that people do not always make simplistic judgments. This all comes down to the task one is doing. If people are motivated, they will make thoughtful, complex judgments. Making judgments about others, however, is done by categorization.
Stereotypes belong to schemas. These are structures that contain a person’s knowledge and beliefs about a social group. Both schemas and stereotypes influence somebody’s interpretation about social group members and kind of stir somebody’s expectation about the behaviour of members of a social group.
People don’t remember information in the same way they stored it in the brain. It is remembered generally. The gaps that exist in our brain are filled in with our expectations (from experiences and beliefs). So situational factors can influence how we perceive and remember a person. Stereotyping is an outcome of information processing.
Types of categorization
There are general social groups, like the races (Blacks and Whites) and specific groups (like priests and teachers). The categorization process is different for these two groups.
Basic social categories are categories for which a lot of information is available in memory. Examples of this are gender, age and race. When people know someone’s basis social category, they can draw conclusions about this person. When these categories can’t be easily determined, people feel confused. They don’t know what to do or how to interact with this person.
There are also other social categories that influence how people react towards each other. Attractive people are treated differently than unattractive people. Other examples are religion, sexual orientation and disability. We all have stereotypes about this. We also make snap judgments on facial expressions, posture and even colours (people who wear white are good, people who wear black are evil).
People notice basic category information first. But people tend to give more weight to some social categories than to others. People find knowing another’s sex more important than knowing another’s race. But people can notice more than one category at a time. When they do, they use a single category, like black man. This represents both basic categories and is called subtype. This leads to a more detailed understanding and a finer judgment.
People divide themselves into groups. The ingroup is always labelled as ‘us’ and the outgroup as ‘them’. You don’t expect that there will be much hatred or different treatment towards another group. Research, however, shows that otherwise. When people were put in one of two groups, they were allowed to give money to members of their own group or members of the other group. They usually gave money to their group, even if they didn’t know/haven’t interacted with their group members.
Sometimes groups are not even based on real differences. Participants were put into one of two groups: the people who had four or less answers correct and the people who had five or six answers correct. So these groups were created from the minimal conditions. This is called minimal group paradigm.
Origins of stereotypes
People can easily create two groups, but how do they come up with the stereotypes of the ingroup or the outgroup?
The outgroup homogeneity effect
People have stereotypes of naturally occurring groups. People see ingroups and outgroups differently. People think that their group members are different from each other and they think that members from the outgroup are all the same. This perception is known as the outgroup homogeneity effect. People think that members from the outgroup look alike, have the same traits and occupy similar social roles. Because of this, evaluations of outgroup members are more extreme than evaluations of ingroup members.
Reasons for the outgroup homogeneity effect are:
People have more contact with the ingroup members than with members from the outgroup. Because of this, they have more information about members from the ingroup than members from the outgroup. They can identify their own group members better and will see their individuality better than members from the outgroup.
- Because people spend more time with their group members, they see them in different situations and notice their individuality.
- People want to see themselves as unique and try to find ways in which they differ from others.
- Ingroup versus outgroup comparisons are made at the group level. People from groups focus on how the groups differ.
The ultimate attribution error
Members of other social groups are treated stereotypically. Because of this, the ultimate attribution error can occur. This means that people think that their own group’s negative behaviour can be explained by situational factors, but that negative actions by members of other groups are due to their characteristics. This can lead to stereotypic beliefs about the outgroup. Positive behaviours by an outgroup are dismissed as due to special advantages or luck. Positive behaviours by ingroup members are attributed to personality traits. The ultimate attribution error can always happen. This effect may be very strong if two groups have a conflict with each other or when emotions run high. The behaviour of a single minority group member can influence how people think about all group members from other groups. When people see one black guy act mean, they might think that every black person is mean.
Social role theory
Some people think that we get our beliefs about social groups by watching the world around us. According to the social role theory, people observe others and pay attention to the social roles they occupy. They associate this role with the individual. This is because of the correspondence bias. This means that people don’t know how much impact situational factors may have on behaviour. People usually think that someone’s actions reflect his/her personality. Because of the social roles we perceive people in and the correspondence bias, stereotypes are created. We usually see mothers as caregivers and they are usually in a lower employee role. Because of this we see women as kind and warm.
Stereotypes represent a relationship between group and a characteristic (Asians are good at math). Information about a group first needs to be encoded. This encoding can go wrong. This means the illusory correlation. This is the belief that incorrectly links two characteristics (like race and personality traits). This link can arise when you see an outgroup member perform an uncommon behaviour.
Transmission of stereotypic beliefs
Stereotypes exist at the individual level. How are stereotypes actually shared? Well, children learn a lot from their parents. Parents also decide whom their children interact with and what they’re allowed to see on the television. And these things influence the things people learn about social groups. Parents teach children stereotypes directly and indirectly. Racial stereotypes usually are taught through indirect means.
Peer influence plays also a big part in stereotyping. When children get older, peer influence gets more important than parental influence. Peers have an influence on attitudes and behaviour. Research shows that interacting with peers who are low in prejudice; make a person who is high in prejudice more accepting of other people.
This may influence stereotype development by the social learning theory. According to this, people learn about social behaviour directly or vicariously. Directly means that somebody is being punished or rewarded for his/her actions and learns from it. Vicariously means that somebody is observing the consequences of another person’s behaviour. They keep doing the things they have been awarded for or actions they saw somebody else be rewarded for and don’t do the things/ don’t hold the beliefs they have been punished for or see somebody else be punished for. So if children are encouraged to read books or watch shows about characters from different backgrounds (these characters have to be positive though) they are more likely to develop positive racial stereotypes than children who don’t watch these shows or read these books.
Another big source of influence is the media. The media is filled with stereotypes. One research showed that a lot of American movies portray Arabics as brutes, uncivilized and as religious fanatics. Newspapers usually use pictures of Blacks to represent the poor. Even when the media presents someone in a non-stereotypical role, they tend to still give a stereotypic picture. When they show a female cop, they usually focus on her attractiveness and not on her bravery. Advertisements also portray people in stereotypic roles. Usually Whites are portrayed and the other ethnic groups are not seen too often in advertisements. Whites are more likely to be portrayed as the authority figure, in parent roles or spousal roles. Asian Americans are more likely to be portrayed as children and African Americans are more likely to be seen in aggressive roles. Latinos are hardly put in commercials. There is also sex-role stereotyping in advertisement. Men are more often portrayed as authority figures than women and men most often do voice-overs of commercials. Women are more likely to be objectified and young women are seen more in advertisement than old women.
One might say that this doesn’t affect us. But research shows otherwise. Children hold more gender and racial stereotypes when they watch more television. Adults are also influenced by the media. The more news-media adults watched during the war against Iraq, the more likely they had implicit prejudice towards Muslims. Watching more television also related to negative stereotypes of older adults. This is because older adults are mainly portrayed in negative roles. Older adults are usually portrayed as crime victims or they are being ridiculed.
Stereotypes are also shared through language. There are more expressions describing women’s promiscuity than men’s. This shows that there’s a double standard. Men having many sexual partners is more socially acceptable than women having many sexual partners. Also, we use words to note a female occupation, like woman doctors. White men don’t get qualifiers. When people use qualifiers for non-traditional groups, it makes them stand out. This increases the chances that they will be categorized on that basis. Words can also mock other ethnicities. In North America people use ‘mock Spanish’. They create words, like ‘el stupido’ to call somebody dumb. This, however, implies that Spanish-speaking people are not intelligent.
Some stereotypes are more likely to be shared than others. This is because people find some stereotypic traits more communicable than others. People also find conversations about these high communicable traits more interesting than conversations about the less communicable traits.
In everyday life people need to figure out if their stereotypes are accurate or not. When a woman takes a walk at night and sees another man, she must figure out if the man is a possible danger or if the man is also out for a walk. An African American student wonders if she will be evaluated on her performance or skin colour by her Caucasian professor. As said before, stereotypes are the products of human information processing that contain a bit of truth. So how big or little is this ‘bit of truth’? Well, it depends on how accuracy is measured. If you measure it by percentage estimates, you look if social group members typically do possess the stereotypic characteristics associated with them. You can also estimate stereotype accuracy by considering the perceived dispersion. If people think that Asians are good at math, they would estimate that there was low variability on this trait. But if you believe that not all Asians are good in math, then you think this trait has a high variability. Accuracy can also be assessed by ranking.
It is maybe dangerous to say that some stereotypes are accurate. People might use that as an excuse to treat people differently, just like the Whites used to do to the Blacks. Even less harmful stereotypes could be used in a wrong way. People think that all basketball players are tall. This does not mean that a school coach should discourage or reject a shorter player. For the tall people it is not always a blast as well that these stereotypes exist. Tall people are usually asked if their dream is to be a basketball player. What we can learn from this is that stereotypes may have a bit of the truth in them, but that relying on them at the individual level may lead to judgments errors.
It is difficult for psychologists to decide whether stereotypes are accurate. Even if a lot of people agree with each other that a certain group has a certain characteristic, this does not mean that these are actual attributes. It is quite difficult to find operational definitions of characteristics. Especially because stereotypes are not based on verifiable demographics but on abstract attributes. Another problem is group comparison. If you want to see whether Blacks are more athletic than Whites, whose ability do you measure? Those of black men or white men? Does the difference also exist for women? Does this also differ if other socio-economic factors differ? These are some of the questions psychologists struggle with.
Another problem with stereotype accuracy is that perceivers have motivations that affect their responses. If somebody feels threatened he or she will be less able to draw accurate conclusions about the characteristics of the outgroup. This person will probably form negative opinions about the outgroup. Another problem for accuracy is the shifting standards model.
This means that judgements are influenced by relative comparisons. Evaluating someone is subjective and one might compare a woman who pushed someone to other women (and might find the pushing woman to be aggressive) or she could compare the woman to people in general (and might come to the conclusion that it is not rare to push somebody and that this woman is not aggressive). This means that assessments are not stable and that assessments depend on the reference point the participants adopt when they evaluate someone. This means that rating scales are subjective and could not be used as estimates of stereotype accuracy.
The previous text shows that stereotype accuracy is a big issue and psychologists ask themselves if stereotype accuracy should be studied further. It may be impossible to measure stereotype accuracy, but on the other hand science needs empirical research.
Functions of stereotypes
Human behaviour is driven by desires and motivations and this is also the case for prejudicial attitudes. But all these motivations and desires differ among people, even if they have the same outcome. Stereotypes also have some functions. Three of those are the cognitive function, the ego-defensive function and the social adjustment function. The cognitive function is that people use schemas when they make decisions about others (as discussed before). People might use this to keep the view of the world stable. I’ve also discussed that people sometimes have stereotypes to feel better about themselves. This is the ego-defensive function. People project their negative feelings on members of other groups. For example, some men might be afraid that gay men will make sexual advances towards them and that’s why they act angry and mean towards gay men. They do this as a means of responding to their discomfort. Some research suggests that homophobic men repress their actual feelings for men and express these in the form of a negative stereotype.
One of the most fundamental goals human beings have is fitting in with their social group. Every group has certain beliefs and expectations and these sometimes involve beliefs and actions towards other groups. If you express opinions that are counter to those of your group members, you might be excluded from the group. It seems so weird that group norms could have such a huge impact on somebody’s life, but think about World War II and how the German society affected the lives of almost every German up to the point that they did terrible things. The pressure to conform was too big.
Special things are seen on the news. You would think that when someone from a certain group does something special (and that doesn’t fit the stereotypes of that group) and that’s on the news, it’s good because people can see that not every person of that group is the same. But in fact, standing out is not good for people who belong to a certain group. This is because this person is seen in more exaggerated stereotypic terms than usual. Perceivers will keep their stereotypic beliefs.
Stereotype-inconsistent information surprises people. This is because they want to account for the stereotypic information. When somebody has to pay attention to a certain person, he or she will most likely remember information that is consistent with his/her stereotypic expectations. Stereotypic expectations affect both what people remember about someone and how they used that remembered information in later judgements. This can influence memory. When you see two people and one of them does something and you will probably think it was the person who’s stereotype fits the action best. This is called source confusion. Assimilation could also happen. This means that a general behaviour is assimilated to fit the stereotype.
Some people are entity theorists. That means that they believe that personality is fixed and that situational factors don’t influence someone’s personality. Incremental theorists believe that a person’s behaviour is influenced by the situation. When these people get new information, entity theorists focus on stereotype-consistent information and incremental theorists focus on both stereotype-consistent and stereotype-inconsistent information and if they do show preference, it is for stereotype-inconsistent information. This of course, has an impact on stereotype maintenance. Because entity theorists don’t pay attention to stereotype-inconsistent information, they are less likely to change their stereotypic beliefs. Because incremental theorists consider both stereotype-consistent and stereotype-inconsistent information, they are more likely to change their stereotypic beliefs.
On a side note: people remember information better when they have strong expectancies, when they are engaged in a complex judgement and when they have to remember specific information rather than form an overall impression.
People are more likely to share stereotype-consistent information than stereotype-inconsistent information about groups. Stereotype-consistent information is repeated from one person to the other and stereotype-inconsistent information gets lost. Also, when group members discuss other groups, their beliefs get more stereotypic than before.
Abstract terms are general and they describe psychological state, like person 1 is dishonest. Concrete terms are observable and descriptive like person B is arguing with person A. The linguistic intergroup bias proposes that positive descriptions of ingroup and negative descriptions of outgroup are made in abstract terms. Negative actions of the ingroup and positive actions of the outgroup are described in concrete terms. This helps maintain stereotypes, because abstract terms are well resistant to change.
People’s stereotypes influence their social behaviour in social interactions. When I behave towards somebody that leads him to behave in a way that I expected because of the stereotypic belief I have about him, a self-fulfilling prophecy has occurred. If you think that somebody might be a-social, you will try to avoid eye contact when you talk to him and keep your distance. This person is maybe not at all aggressive, but because you act so distant towards him/her, he or she might just do the same. This is called behaviour reciprocation.
Fixing incorrect beliefs is a good thing to do. The whole point of having beliefs in the first place is to process information efficiently. How can we do that if we have wrong information? When people see something or someone that doesn’t fit the stereotypical belief, they can change their belief or find a way to put this ‘odd’ information in the category it is part of.
There are a couple of models that suggest how people can change stereotypical beliefs. One is the bookkeeping model. This suggests that people add and subtract information and that this can slowly change beliefs. The conversion model suggests that people change their beliefs if they see contradictory evidence. The subtyping model suggests that contradictory evidence does not affect the beliefs about a group and that a special category to this group is created for this exception. This is called re-fencing. When you see a lot of these ‘exceptions’, they won’t be exceptions anymore. You will then probably change the entire stereotypic belief. People, however, look for reasons not to challenge their stereotypic beliefs.
How can stereotypes lead to a negative outcome for a person, say being rejected for a job because of one’s gender? The first thing needed, is stereotype knowledge. Everybody needs to have knowledge about these stereotypes, even non-prejudiced people. This does not mean that a person agrees with these stereotypes. Stereotype endorsement is the extent to which a person agrees with the stereotypes. The second step that leads to negative outcomes of a stereotype is stereotype activation. Usually stereotypes are dormant until they get activated. The last step is stereotype application. This means that the activated stereotype is applied to a person. This process is automatic.
A person must be categorized as a member of a stereotyped group. When this has happened, the stereotype can be activated. People can be categorized in more than one group and several processes work to determine which category gets the most attention. The first thing you notice about another person is race. This is followed by gender. There is a fraction of a second difference in this shift in attention. People will use both categories to classify somebody. This results in subcategories, like white woman. This substereotype will be available for activation.
There are some factors that affect the speed of categorization. One of those factors is prototypicality. A person is prototypical if he or she fits the observer’s concept of the features of that category. The more prototypical people are of a category, the more quickly they can be categorized. This is called the racial phenotypic bias. Prototypicality is not just defined by the physical features, but also a person’s likeability. White people categorize admired members of their own race more quickly than disliked members. Blacks, however, were categorized more quickly when they were disliked than when they were admired. Disliked Blacks and admired Whites were seen as more prototypical of their racial group.
Categorization is an automatic process, but it can be influenced by situational factors. These factors can have an impact on the categorization process. They can make you choose one category over another. People subcategorize using basic social categories, but they need to be motivated to subcategorize on the basis of other characteristics. When someone meets a nurse, the salient category will be white woman, not nurse, because gender and race are the basic social categories. People use basic categories rather than subcategories.
The context can also influence categorization. When one person differs from his/her group members in a way, observant pay the most attention to the category in which the person differs from the group members. When one black woman is seen in an all-male context, observant think of her as a women, they thought of her in terms of her gender. When that woman was seen in an all-white context, they thought of her in terms of her race. People’s action might also draw attention to a category.
When observant saw an Asian woman putting on make-up they thought of her in terms of her gender, when they saw her eating with chopsticks, they thought of her in terms of her race. Observers use the basic social category their attention has been drawn to.
People who are racially prejudiced pay more attention to race than other characteristics. This affects categorization and these people are also biased in the categorizations they make. Sometimes people also use ingroup overexclusion: they don’t want to treat outgroup members as though they are part of the ingroup. It is thus safer to misclassify ingroup members as outgroup members than to misclassify outgroup members as ingroup members.
Exclusion of outgroup members can also be accomplished by accurate classification. This can be difficult, because there are light-skinned African Americans and dark-skinned European Americans. Prejudiced people may be very motivated in that case to accurately classify people as Blacks or Whites. It takes racial prejudiced people in that case longer to categorize racially ambiguous faces. Prototypical faces were categorized immediately.
When a stereotype is activated, it is capable to influence people’s thoughts. When categories have been made, two types of stereotype activation processes begin that can influence each other and operate at the same time. The first one is the automatic process, this is triggered by observing stimuli that are associated with the stereotyped group. The second one is motivated processing. These get activated when stereotypes can help fulfil certain goals and needs. These motives can arise from individual difference factors or from situational factors. Also, the aspects of stereotypes must be relevant to the situation in which people find themselves. If you’re looking for an employee, stereotypes of work-related traits (like lazy or hard working) will be activated.
When stereotypes are activated by showing the stimuli only briefly, there is a greater activation in the amygdale (a brain area associated with emotions) when participants see black faces rather than white faces. If stimuli are presented longer, the frontal cortex gets activated (the area associated with regulation and control). The activation was greater for black faces than for white faces. This suggests that participants are trying to control their biased responding.
When automatic processing occurs, it’s because of cultural environments. Culture establishes links between categories and stereotypes. When these links are strong in the culture, people learn the links well and the stereotype becomes a conditioned mental response to the category. Category activation leads to stereotyping.
There are some factors that influence the activation of a stereotype. One of those factors is prototypicality. Whites rate Blacks who have more prototypically African face features as more negative than a black is less prototypical. Another factor is context. When you encounter somebody, it will occur in a certain context, like in a store or a theatre. This can affect a person’s interpretation about you. Stereotypes have positive and negative components. The place you encounter somebody can influence which component of the stereotype will be activated. If you meet somebody in a dark alley, a negative stereotype will probably be activated. If you meet somebody at a daycare, a positive stereotype will probably be activated. Researcher has found that viewing black people in a positive context (like a family barbecue) brings more positive association to the Blacks than viewing black people in a negative context (urban street with graffiti on the wall). Why is this? Researchers have found that categorization and stereotype activation occur at the subtype level (like black priest) rather than at the category level (like black person).
Another factor is prejudice. Prejudice can facilitate stereotype activation. People high in prejudice have a higher tendency to attribute stereotypic traits to certain groups than people low in prejudice. This occurs because automatic stereotype activation occurs because of the well-learned associations between a category and the stereotypes associated to this. Because high prejudiced people use stereotypes more consistently, they develop associations that are highly accessible. For low prejudiced people the opposite is true.
The last factor that will be discussed is cognitive busyness. Stereotypes need to be retrieved from long-term memory before they can be used and brought into working memory. But if this working memory is already in use, there might not be enough space left in working memory for stereotypic information. So stereotypes won’t usually be activated if the person is cognitively busy.
People’s motivation has an influence on stereotype activation. People want to achieve their goals and if they can achieve that by stereotype activation, they do that. If stereotypes stand between them and their goals, stereotype activation will be inhibited. Four different goals will be discussed.
The first goal is the comprehension goal. People want to understand why certain things happen and they want to know what other people are like. Knowing these things makes the world more predictable and people feel more secure. You will know how a person will react, know the causes of certain events and you will know how to respond effectively.
The second goal is self-enhancement. People want to see themselves in a positive light. One way in which this can be achieved is by stereotypes. If you see someone in a negative light, you will feel better about yourself. In one research, white participants received either positive or negative feedback on the test results. They either received this from a black or a white person.
Negative stereotypes of the black interviewer were activated when he gave the person negative feedback. People tried to lessen the effect of the negative feedback by making the evaluator look less competent. They did this by activating a negative black stereotype. But not only are negative stereotypes activated. When the evaluator was black and gave positive feedback, negative stereotypes were inhibited. The man wasn’t seen as a black man, but as a researcher. So his positive praise was worth something to the participants, because he was not ‘just a black guy’, he was a researcher and when a researcher praises you, your self-esteem goes up.
The third goal is social adjustment. People want to fit situations and follow the rules and behaviour of a certain setting. You speak in a different way to your parents about a subject than to your friends. This can also affect stereotypes. When people talk to black interviewers, they may be less willing to admit their racial prejudices than when they talk to white interviewers. This is because the social norm of not offending others is so strong that it inhibits stereotype activation.
The fourth goal is motivation to control prejudice. Prejudice is considered as a negative trait and people try to avoid acting in this way. People don’t want to act in this way because it’s against their values or because they don’t want others to think of them as prejudiced. This can help inhibit stereotype activation.
The last goal is stereotype relevance. People will activate stereotypes if it helps them fulfil a need. It they interact with a person of a stereotyped group, a stereotype will only be activated if it helps to fulfil the needs of the people.
As discussed before, cognitive busyness can inhibit stereotype activation. But if a motive is strong enough it can overcome the automatic inhibition process. So there can be multiple motives in play and the effects of these can reinforce or work against each other.
When a stereotype is activated, it is available to be used. But a stereotype can also be inhibited. To inhibit a stereotype, one must be motivated. But being motivated is not everything. A person might be motivated and can control his/her verbal behaviour, but he/she might not be able to control nonverbal behaviour (like making eye contact). So unless a person wants and can inhibit a stereotype, stereotype application will probably occur.
A couple of factors can influence the motivation to inhibit stereotypes. Some factors are similar to the factors we discussed before.
Motivation to control prejudice; People usually don’t want to act in a prejudiced manner. They might feel bad about themselves if they view others in stereotypic terms.
Comprehension goals; People want to be accurate about their beliefs about other people. When you know what other people are like, you know how to interact effectively with them. If you don’t know how other people are, you might be concerned you might do or say something to offend the person. While judging others, people prefer to use individuation information. They look at the information that is specific to the person. However, this does not always do away with the influence of stereotypes.
Cognitive style; Cognitive styles are individual differences in people’s motivation to acquire and use information. This can affect the use of stereotypes. People who have a high need for cognition want to consider all the options when making a decision. People who are low on this treat, only think about things carefully if they have a reason to do so. People who are low in need for cognition, use stereotypes more often to make judgments than people high in need for cognition. Another cognition style is causal uncertainty. Some people have a need to understand how the world and other people operate. They want to gather a lot of information to understand the world. These people are high on causal certainty. People who are low on this trait, are sure that they understand the world correctly and usually use stereotypes. A third type of cognitive style is need for closure. People who are high on this trait, prefer simple answers to questions and they prefer to use stereotypes.
Self-enhancement goals; Treats to self-esteem will facilitate the application of stereotypes. When you see someone in a negative stereotype, you will feel better of yourself.
Social power; Having powers over others facilitates the application of stereotypes of the people subject to that power. People who have a lot of power usually have a job where they’re entitled to judge others. Because of this, they sometimes get overconfident about their judgments about others. This leads to stereotypes. Also, powerful people want to keep the difference in power between them and others and they do this by stereotypes. Powerful people might also stereotype subordinates because they have no motivation to individuate them. There is also a difference in stereotype inhibition between different leaders. Some power holders are weakness-oriented and other are strength-oriented. The first want to avoid failure and see subordinates in stereotypic terms when those stereotypes indicate that the subordinates might not have the capability to do a task. The subordinate is not allowed to work on the task. The second type leader wants to achieve success and view subordinates in stereotypic terms when these stereotypes indicate that the subordinates do have the capability to bring this task to a good end.
The ability to inhibit stereotypes
In this chapter a couple of ways for inhibiting stereotypes have been discussed. However, sometimes this is not possible. These factors will be discussed next.
In the previous part of the next, I discussed how cognitive busyness could prevent the activation of stereotypes. But when a stereotype has been activated and is in working memory, cognitive busyness can use up mental resources that could otherwise be used for the search of individuating information. Because of this, stereotype inhibition will be prevented and stereotypes will be applicated.
Another factor that could prevent stereotype inhibition is the time of day. Morning people are most active in the early part of the day and evening people are more active in the evening. By active, cognitive capacity is meant. Stereotypes are often used in the non-active period. So for morning people this would be in the evening and for the evening people this would be in the morning.
When cognitive load is high, people pay more attention to stereotypic information once a stereotype is activated. They don’t individuate information. This is because it’s easier to integrate stereotype-consistent information when the working memory is limited.
Consequences of stereotypes
Sometimes some behaviours are judged negatively when a member of a minority group does it and judged positively when somebody from the own group does it. When a white person shoves another person, people might think he’s just fooling around. When a black person shoves another person, one might say that he’s aggressive. This is consistent with the stereotype that black people are aggressive. The same thing occurs for social class. When behaviour is ambiguous, it is often judged more positively when it involves rich people than when it involves poor people.
Stereotypes can have an impact on evaluation. Some members of minority groups will be evaluated more negatively for certain behaviour than white people. Sometimes it also depends on which category you look at. When participants had to evaluate whether an Asian woman was qualified as a computer technician, it depended on the category they paid attention to whether she would be seen as qualified or not. When the participants saw her as an Asian (Asian stereotype is positive for this job), they found her more qualified than when they saw her as a woman (negative stereotype for this job).
One good question is whether emotions affect the extent to which stereotypes are activated and applied. This type of emotion is called ‘incidental emotion’ because it depends on the emotions that are brought to the interaction. If somebody behaves in a mean way to an outgroup member, it may not be because he doesn’t like him, but because he was in a bad mood.
One might think that being in a good mood inhibits the use of stereotypes. But this is not true. In fact, happy people stereotype more than neutral or sad people. Why is this? This is because happy people think simplistically. Because they think that everything is fine, they think that they don’t need to evaluate the environment. Sad people have a problematic environment and they will therefore think carefully. Happy people will be more likely to attribute wrong stereotypic characteristics to others. This happy mood effect, however, is not absolute. When happy people are motivated to make careful judgments, they will. Angry people also stereotype more than neutral people. This is because angry people focus their attention to their emotional state and distracts people from their environmental factors. This leads to stereotypes.
So it seems that arousing emotions promote stereotypes. Researchers, however, have found that the arousing emotion fear does not facilitate stereotyping. So some arousing emotions promote stereotyping and others do not. Researchers still don’t know why this is the case.
Emotions and prejudice
Emotions are aroused automatically and because of this one might not know why he or she feels this emotion. If you feel discomfort when you interact with a member from the outgroup, this may be because you have (unconscious) negative stereotypes about them. Emotions also motivate behaviour. People that are afraid flee from the fearful situation and anger motivates people to attack the person they are angry at.
People can experience different emotions in response to the same person. This is of course because different people develop different beliefs. One might hold negative stereotypes about another person and the other does not. Also, one might evaluate a certain belief positively and the other might evaluate it negatively. Of course the degree of intensity with which people experience emotions may also differ.
Three categories of emotions will be discussed below.
Intergroup emotions are the feelings that people get when they think about members of a social group or when they interact with these member. There are different models of how intergroup emotions arise and affect behaviour.
The first model is called the stereotype content model. This model classifies group stereotypes along two broad dimensions. The first one is warmth. Groups can be seen as warm (and friendly) or as cold (and unfriendly). The outgroup is seen as warm because they might be willing to cooperate and benefit the ingroup. The outgroup is seen as cold because they can harm the ingroup and prevent them from reaching their goals. The second dimension is competence. Groups can be competent and successful in dealing with the world and can help or frustrate the accomplishments of the ingroup’s goals. Groups can also be incompetent and unsuccessful in dealing with the world and can’t help or frustrate the ingroup in their goal accomplishment. The combinations of stereotypic warmth and competence lead to different emotions. White people from the middle class are seen as warm and competent and admiration is the emotion that is evoked. Disabled and retarded people are seen as warm and not competent and evoke pity. People with low warmth and high competence evoke envy and anger. Another model looks at the specific beliefs about subgroups. These beliefs are about how an outgroup might threaten the welfare of the ingroup. Groups that can pose economic threats, evoke anger and fear and the behaviour towards these groups will be aggressive. Groups that pose a value threat evoke feelings of disgust and the ingroup wants to avoid them. Groups that pose a danger on safety evoke feelings of fear and the behaviour will be escaping. Groups that are unsuccessful evoke feelings of pity and the behaviour towards these groups is help.
Behaviours that are directed at groups can be described in terms of two dimensions. The first is the degree of helpfulness/harm to a group. The other is the degree of activeness. With those two things you can get four categories:
Active facilitation. This is doing things that help groups get ahead in society.
Passive facilitation. This is not hindering a group from getting ahead in society.
Action harm. This means doing harmful things to a group.
Passive harm. This means not doing anything that would be helpful to a group or not acting politely towards a group.
Although these behaviours seem to be very little and don’t seem to have a huge impact, they actually do. They can create huge feelings of psychological harm/hurt in the people who experience them.
When people’s environments change they experience emotions. This can happen when you interact with a member from another group. The emotion you then have will motivate the behaviour associated with this emotion. If the behaviour is successful in restoring the environment, the emotion will be reduced. If behaviour is produced that’s ineffective, the emotion will be increased and the likelihood of a stronger response in the future will also be increased.
What happens when emotions combine? Ordinary emotions can combine and result in strong and potentially destructive emotions of hate. Hate is composed of high levels of the next three emotions:
Disgust. Feelings of disgust motivate people to avoid certain groups. This can be done by limiting the occupations the outgroup can follow or by placing them in a certain area where they have to live (ghettos). It can also be more extreme. Sometimes you distance yourself psychologically from a group and you come to see those people as less than human (like the Jews were portrayed).
Fear and anger. When you see the outgroup as a threat to your own group, you may fear them or have anger towards them.
Contempt. These feelings motivate people to look down on the outgroup. Usually people see the outgroup members as less than human, because they think they don’t posses all traits, like intelligence and self-control. Because some people are seen as less than human, they fall outside the protection of the rules that normally lead behaviour in society.
When you combine two or even all of these components of hate, you get various types and degrees of hate. The most dangerous form of hate is a combination of all three components and it’s called burning hate. There are some stories about the outgroup that the ingroup tells to maintain the hate. The two main stories are that outgroups are barbarians and evil victimizers. The outgroup members want to destroy the culture of the ingroup and replace it with their own culture. They also want to torture, murder and rape members from the ingroup. These are the things ingroup members tell. Of course, people differ in the experience of emotions. People who are more sensitive to disgust, are more negative towards the outgroup.
When people feel discomfort when they interact with outgroup members, this is called intergroup anxiety. This discomfort comes from the expectation that interactions with outgroup members will have negative consequences. One could believe that an outgroup member is dangerous, that he/she will ridicule the person or perceive the person as being prejudiced. One might also feel discomfort because he/she thinks that the ingroup will reject or ridicule him for having interactions with the outgroup.
These expectations exist because someone did not have a lot of contact with the outrgroup or did only have negative contact with them. Because of this, people expect that future contact will also have negative consequences. Intergroup anxiety is related to prejudice. This relation is self-reinforcing. Because people are anxious, they don’t want to interact with other groups. But because they avoid other groups, they can’t have positive contacts with them and thus negative expectations and stereotypes won’t be undermined.
If someone is in need and you feel sympathy and compassion, then you’re being empathic. Empathy is an individual difference variable. Some people are more capable of feeling empathy than others. Empathy consists of two components. Perspective taking means you can place yourself in other’s shoes. Empathic concern is experiencing compassion for unfortunate others. Personal distress is experiencing distress when others are really distressed. Fantasy means you can place yourself into fictional situations.
Empathic people exhibit less prejudice. This is because people adopt the perspective of members of stigmatized groups when they’re empathic. Empathic feelings increase valuing of the individual’s welfare and the group as a whole will be viewed in a more positive light.
Motivation to control prejudice
All people are prejudiced to some degree, but might not be consciously aware of it. People feel sometimes an impulse to do or say something in a prejudiced manner, but will restrain that behaviour.
People might not want to respond in a prejudiced way, because of a certain norm. Complying with a norm can come from two sources. The first source is internal. People think that prejudice is wrong and don’t want to show prejudiced behaviour. The other source is social pressure. One does not act in a nonprejudiced way to avoid negative reactions from other people. People can be external or internal motivated, or both.
An aspect of external motivation to control prejudice is social norms. These are rules that groups develop which describe how to be a good group member. When a group is against prejudice, members will suppress their behaviour. These norms are learned in childhood but can change when one person enters a new environment (like going to college).
A lot of people from western societies think that prejudice is not a big problem anymore. Evidence, however, suggests that prejudice is still alive but more in a subtle form. One research that is used is the bogus pipeline. This is a fake lie detector and participants really think that their physiological responses are measured by this pipeline. People don’t want to get caught lying and reveal their true attitudes. People express more prejudice under bogus pipeline conditions than when they think that their responses can’t be checked. Other evidence comes from physiological measures. A person can say that he/she is low on prejudice, but his/her physiological responses indicate otherwise. Outcomes of self-reports indicate that prejudice still exists. Although white people do think that Blacks and Whites should be treated equally, they would not be really willing to have intimate interactions with Blacks. Also, people from minority groups report that they’re being discriminated.
Why do a lot of people say that they are not prejudiced or that discrimination is not an issue nowadays, while in fact still is? Since WO II racial attitudes have changed. In America, prejudice by the white majority against members of other groups was the social norm. The prejudice of this era is referred to as Jim Crow racism. One component of this was that Whites believed that they were superior to other races, men were superior to women and Christians were morally superior to other religions. The second component was that Whites believed that they had the right to distance themselves from minority groups, through racial segregation. The third component was the use of law and power of government to establish racially segregated places and other forms of discrimination. Because of WO II, these norms changed. People wanted to fight against Nazis and their racist ideology and therefore they should also change their own racist ideology. After WO II people started to feel that minority groups should have equal opportunities. Norms changed and racism went from being normal to being bad. People started seeing themselves as being unprejudiced. But still, some people might not think of themselves as prejudiced, but they do have negative emotions about certain groups. These emotions are part of implicit prejudice. People are not aware of having these negative beliefs. Although these beliefs are unconscious, they affect the holders emotional responses. Old-fashioned prejudice supported racial segregation. New form of prejudice is the belief that discrimination does not exist and that minority group members should stop complaining.
Theories of prejudice
There are different theories of prejudice. They all share three propositions. People believe in the principle of equality for all. The second proposition is that not everyone has accepted this norm to the same degree. People that are more highly educated, are usually the ones who accept these norms. The third proposition is that even those people who have not accepted the norms fully are motivated to act in a nonprejudiced way. In the next part modern symbolic prejudice, aversive prejudice and racial ambivalence are discussed. These theories are labelled as theories of racism, but many of their principles apply to other forms of prejudice as well.
Modern symbolic prejudice
Symbolic racism is a set of beliefs about black people as an abstract group (no individuals, just ‘they’). Black people are seen as morally inferior to whites, because they supposedly violate traditional white values. These beliefs are expressed in the form of acts, like opposing certain programs and voting against black candidates. These actions are justified on a non-racial basis. This type of prejudice/racism stands in contrast to old-fashioned racism, which beliefs that Blacks are biologically inferior, have a low intelligence and are lazy. Psychologists think that social change has led Whites to reject a great part of old-fashioned racism. Symbolic racism is not linked to race directly; it’s linked indirectly to race. Because of this, most Whites don’t see symbolic racism as prejudice. Scientists changed the name symbolic racism into modern racism.
In modern racism, there are five themes that justify the behaviours:
- Racial prejudice and discrimination no longer exists. Modern racists believe that nothing stands in the way of the success of Blacks, because racism no longer exists.
- The difference in economic outcomes between Whites and Blacks is because Blacks lack the motivation to work hard. Whites believe that Irish and Italians in the United States have worked hard to overcome prejudice and so should Blacks. The reason that they’ve not succeeded is because of their own characteristics.
- Because Blacks are unwilling to work, their anger over inequality is unjustified.
- Blacks seek special favours instead of working.
- If you compare Blacks and Whites, you’ll see that Blacks have been getting more than they deserve economically. White people are deprived of jobs, which are given to Blacks.
You can see that modern prejudiced people still have negative emotions about Blacks. They support racial equality and don’t have hostile emotions like old-fashioned racist do but they have emotions like anxiety and resentment. People acquire these negative emotions through socialization. This is learning one’s culture by imitating adult’s behaviour and by being taught what attitudes to hold. This usually happens without conscious awareness.
Why do people hold negative emotions towards Blacks, when they do support racial equality? A lot of white Americans believe in traditional values, such as working hard, individualism and self-reliance. Whites think that Blacks fail to act in accordance to these values, because they accept public assistance and seek favours from the government. Another factor is egalitarianism. This means that people believe that everybody should be treated identically. People who are modern-prejudiced believe people are equal but oppose policies that could bring it about. This is because they give a certain meaning to equality. Equality for them is that everybody should receive an equal share of society’s resources. People who can’t afford certain things, will get their child-care and housing paid by the government. This is the part modern prejudiced people do not like. According to them, equal chances are given to all and someone’s success should therefore depend on individual’s talent. Governments should not intervene in this. Also, Whites don’t want other white people being deprived of jobs or education because of Blacks.
Aversive prejudice is the attitude of a person who tries to ignore the existence of black people and tries to ignore them. People that hold this belief believe in equality but nonetheless have negative feelings about certain groups. These emotions are not really intense, but low-key. People feel discomfort, but no hatred. People who hold aversive prejudiced beliefs also learn these during their childhood. So aversive prejudice looks a lot like modern-symbolic prejudice. There are some differences, though. Aversive prejudice supports equality-enhancing programs, people who are aversive prejudiced really want to see themselves as unprejudiced and they usually avoid interracial contact. When they do get involved in interracial contact, they experience anxiety and discomfort.
There are three psychological underpinnings for aversive prejudice. The first one is that people categorize others in social groups and they contrast these groups against other groups. The second underpinning is that people want to control their environment to ensure positive outcomes for themselves and their groups. People who are aversive prejudiced, are sometimes in a dilemma because they have two conflicting feelings. The first one is that they have been socialized to some extent in the racist traditions and the second one is that they believe in racial fairness. Sometimes they will behave negative towards other groups and other times they won’t. They won’t discriminate in situations in which they think others would recognize it as discrimination. Discrimination will occur when the behaviour is not obvious or when an aversive racist can justify his actions (to himself).
Because of this, psychologists study aversive prejudice differently than other types of prejudice. They don’t focus on who is biased, but when it occurs. Research focuses on interracial interactions and concrete situations.
Behaviour and aversive prejudice
There are a couple of predictions about the behaviour of aversive prejudiced people. The first one is avoiding intergroup contact. People who are aversive prejudiced, avoid contact with members of minority groups. They do this, because of negative stereotypes or negative experiences they once had. Also, people think that others might think less of them when they’re associated with minorities. That’s why they get anxious when people from minority groups want to interact with them.
The second behaviour is that they can be overly positive towards members of different groups. Because aversive prejudiced people want to be seen as unprejudiced, they overdo their efforts to be seen as unprejudiced by others.
The third behaviour is completely different from the second. This behaviour is a pro-White bias. Although people try to be unprejudiced when the situation is pretty clear, they show a pro-White bias when the unprejudiced response is not clearly defined.
The fourth behaviour is anti-minority discrimination. Aversive prejudiced people discriminate against other groups if the behaviour can be justified as unprejudiced. Research showed that Blacks and Whites received help at the same rate. But when not helping could be attributed to factors other than race, black people were helped less than white people. So if somebody said that he/she had not a lot of time, black people were helped less often than white people. The last behaviour mentioned is the derogation of higher status minority group members. White people think that they are superior to black people. When people from minority groups occupy high positions, aversive prejudiced people still don’t see them as very intelligent. White people in high positions are seen as more intelligent than oneself, by white research participants, but when black people are in higher positions, they are viewed as not being more intelligent than the participants.
Ambivalent prejudice holds that white people accept racial equality and that they have developed positive attitudes towards black people that exist along negative attitudes. Black people are seen as having positive and negative characteristics and the behaviour of a white person can (therefore) be sometimes negative and sometimes positive. Their attitudes are ambivalent and this is caused by their two belief-sets about black people.
There are two different groups of ambivalent racial attitudes. One focuses on individualism, personal responsibility and hard work. The other focuses on egalitarianism and that people should help others who are disadvantaged. There are also two sets of white people’s beliefs about black people that are important to the theory. The first one is deviance. White people think that black people have a trouble to fit in the society because of their beliefs and culture. The other is disadvantage. White people think that black people are less well off economically than white people. The individualistic view will let people focus on that Blacks are deviant and this will lead to negative feelings. The egalitarian view will let people focus on the disadvantages black people had to overcome and will lead to positive feelings. People who hold both views will experience ambivalence.
Other researchers propose that ambivalence is produced by other sets of feelings. They say that people can be either liked or disliked and respected or disrespected. The liked people are warm and friendly and the disliked people are cold and distant. Also, respected people are those that show some achievements and unrespected people are people who fail on a lot of things in life. Feelings of liking and respect are independent of one another. This means that you can like someone, but not respect him or her. Some people like black persons but find them lazy. You may also dislike somebody but respect him or her. An example of this might be a black athletic person. He or she might be very talented, but mean towards others. That’s the reason why, according to this view, people have conflicting feelings that are expressed as ambivalent prejudice.
People’s ambivalent attitudes affect their behaviour only when they become aware that they have inconsistent feelings toward minority groups. So one person might feel sympathy for someone who is not dealing so well in life, but who has done nothing to help himself/herself. The person that feels sympathy sees the conflict in his/her feelings because one should not have positive feelings towards people who are not doing their best for themselves. On the other side, this person realizes that the other value is that one should help the less fortunate. The self-image of the person with the conflicting will be threatened this way and this person will get negative emotions. To reduce this, one person has to act if one value system is more important than the other. The person will behave according to this value and the conflict is resolved. According to the theory of cognitive dissonance, it’s simpler. People think that their behaviours and attitudes follow a consistent pattern. Inconsistencies or contradictions that lead to negative emotions which people want to reduce. Both theories suggest that one set of beliefs should be chosen over the other.
Sometimes people who are ambivalent prejudiced can behave in a positive way towards a minority group member and the other time negative. Response amplification means that a person may respond more extremely towards from a minority group than towards a person who is not from a minority group, but who is in the same type of situation. The situation determines whether someone will act extremely negative or extremely positive. One can act extremely negative towards someone from a minority group or extremely positive.
Putting the theories together
The different types of prejudice can be arranged along a continuum of severity. Old-fashioned prejudice is at the most severe end. This type of prejudice is characterized by the lack of acceptance of group equality and traditional racist beliefs. They have negative feelings towards people from minority groups. Modern-symbolic prejudice is a high acceptance of equality of opportunity for minority groups but reject certain outcomes (social policies). These people retain negative stereotypes and think that minority groups receive special favour while white people are treated unfairly. People with aversive prejudice see themselves as unprejudiced, but still have mild negative feelings about minority groups. They do not want to have interracial contacts but when this happens, they act polite. In ambiguous situations they show pro-White behaviour and when behaviour can be justified as unprejudiced, they show an anti-minority bias. People with aversive prejudice experience a conflict between positive and negative stereotypes of minority groups. Because of this, they may experience discomfort. To reduce this, they chose for experiencing negative or positive emotions.
There are two aspects of prejudice, positive and negative. Negative prejudice has already been discussed in the previous chapters and now positive prejudice will be discussed. Hostile prejudice refers to the traditional form of prejudice, the negative form. Benevolent prejudice refers to positive beliefs and emotional responses to targets of prejudice.
Benevolent prejudice sounds good, but it has been used to justify some cruelties, like European colonialism. Still, benevolent prejudice is usually a lot of different than hostile prejudice. One example is sexism. Hostile sexism views women as creatures that want to control men through marriage and sex and they want material goods. Benevolent sexism sees women as creatures that nurture their children and have to be protected and adored. Sounds good, but benevolent sexism also thinks that women are weak and that their best occupation should be as a homemaker. You see that benevolent prejudice can be used in wrong ways. Someone might tell you that you should not be prejudiced, because you said that women are weak. You might respond that you’re not prejudiced, because you also said that women are good childrearers. The people who hold certain beliefs might not feel guilty. Not everything they said was negative.
In a previous chapter it has been said that stereotypes can be described in terms of two sets of characteristics: warm and likeable against cold and not likeable and competent versus incompetent. These two sets also form different types of prejudice. High perceived warmth + competence brings positive attitudes towards the ingroup. This is a positive prejudice and usually goes along with the pro-White bias. High perceived warmth + low competence results in paternalistic (benevolent) prejudice. This results in positive emotions, but with pity and one will feel superior over the group. One will help this group, but also limit their power in society. Targets of this type of prejudice are disabled people.
Hostile prejudice can be divided in two forms. Envious prejudice arises when a group is competent, but not warm. The other group is usually seen as a threat and the ingroup will act hostile. Targets of this type of prejudice are the Jews. The other form is contemptuous prejudice. This results when a group is perceived as incompetent and cold and they are (therefore) seen as dislikeable. Targets of this prejudice include poor Whites and poor Blacks.
There are some characteristics that are associated with prejudice. Two of these are authoritarianism and social dominance orientation. These two are seen as personality traits, but actually are ideologies. Ideologies are sets and beliefs that make people view the world in a certain way and behave according to this viewpoint.
A couple of psychologists wondered how fascism could have reached so much followers in the 1930s and they developed the concept of the authoritarian personality. This personality is susceptible to obey authority figures. This personality has nine characteristics and five of these are related to prejudice:
Conventionalism. This type of personality adheres to conventional values.
Authoritarian aggression: Looking for and punishing people that violate conventional values.
Projectivity. Believing that wild and dangerous things happen in this world.
With these five characteristics one can see that this could lead to prejudice. In the 1980s the concept of the authoritarian personality had been replaced with that of the right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). RWA is in contrary to the authoritarian personality not a personality type but a set of attitudes. RWA is described in three clusters of attitudes and these look a lot like three of the characteristics of the authoritarian personality. These are authoritarian submission (a high degree of submission to the authorities), authoritarian aggression (aggression towards certain people) and conventionalism. People high in RWA tend to be prejudiced against a wide variety of groups. Some of these include feminists, gays, Muslims, immigrants and fat people.
There are several personal characteristics of people high in RWA that may predispose them to prejudice. The first one is that people high in RWA tend to be mentally inflexible. Also, they see the world in simple terms, have a high need for closure and want definite answers. Inflexibility is associated with stereotyping and inflexible people are not interested in experiencing new things and therefore are not likely to be exposed to views that differ from their own. They also see the world as a dangerous place and therefore place a high value on security. They try to find this security by submitting to authority and confirming to group norms. People high in RWA organize their worldviews in terms of prejudice. By seeing themselves as an ingroup and others as the outgroup, they exaggerate the differences between the groups and this way prejudice is promoted. People high in RWA also see themselves as self-righteous and they see themselves therefore as more moral than others. They think that they therefore are justified in looking down on the people authority figures define as less moral than themselves. People high in RWA only hold prejudiced believes against groups authority figures condemn. So if authority figures say that being gay is wrong, people high in RWA will hold prejudiced beliefs about gay people.
Social dominance orientation
Social dominance orientation (SDO) is an individual difference variable. It reflects the extent to which one desires that his/her group dominates and is superior to outgroups. This exists of two related components, group-based dominance and opposition to equality. Group-based dominance is the belief that one’s group should be on top and the outgroup at the bottom of life. Opposition to equality means that one beliefs that the outgroup should stay at the bottom. People high in SDO think they should control society and society’s resources. They are all for unequality. The people who hold higher levels of social dominance orientation also hold higher powers in society. Whites score higher on SDO than minorities, men than women and the wealthy scores higher than the less wealthy. Also, the longer you’re part of a high-power social group, the higher you score on SDO. SDO is related to social power in two ways. People who are high in SDO are attracted to high-power professions and this profession will increase SDO also. SDO people are prejudiced against members of groups that challenge the existence of social inequality. This can be foreigners, feminists and gay men. People high in SDO have certain personal characteristics that predispose them to prejudice. They see the world as a competitive jungle and a place where resources are in limited supply. They are afraid that if someone else gets these supplies, they will lose out on it. Because of this, people high in SDO try to deny resources to members of outgroups and try to keep outgroups from gaining any power. These people also are low in empathy.
Legitimising myths is also an important concept. Legitimising myths is used to justify one’s position in society. Beliefs, attitudes and stereotypes are part of legitimising maths. These can be used to deny equality to other groups. An example of this is denying proper education to a group the ingroup thinks of as unintelligent. Why would they want to spend their precious resources to people who are too dumb to make good use of it? That’s what they think. Being high in SDO leads people to endorse negative stereotypes of outgroups and these lead to prejudice. Legitimising myths is necessary for people high in SDO to justify their prejudiced responses. SDO and authoritarianism sound similar, but they are different. The biggest difference is that authoritarianism focuses on submission to authority figures, but that it doesn’t matter if these authority figures are for dominance over outgroups, whether this is the view of authority figures or not. SDO focuses on the relationship between groups and authoritarianism focuses on the relationship within groups. There are also differences in the form of prejudice SDO is linked to racial and antigay prejudice, whereas RWA is linked to antigay but not racial prejudice. This difference exists, because RWA focuses on perceived threats. They think that gay people are a threat to social values and therefore they respond negatively. African Americans are not seen as a threat and won’t be the victim of discrimination then. SDO are for maintaining the inequality and they will be therefore prejudiced against Blacks, because these challenge the inequality.
The self is one’s awareness of oneself as a living being with interactions. The self is aware of one’s own characteristic behaviour. Self-esteem refers to the people’s evaluation of themselves. People who evaluate themselves as negatively have low self-esteem, whereas people who evaluate themselves positively have high self-esteem. Prejudice can be related to self-esteem in two ways. One is the self-enhancement and the other is self-protection. The first one is looking down on others to make oneself feel better, the second one is if one’s self-esteem is threatened one will look down on others to feel better and counteract the threat.
The traditional view is that people with low self-esteem should be more prejudiced than people with high self-esteem. Because people with low self-esteem have a poor self-concept, they may pick on others to raise their self-esteem. People with high self0esteem don’t need to raise their self-esteem. This is one of the interpretations. The other one is the opposite. This one holds that people with high self-esteem should be more prejudiced than people with low self-esteem. This is because prejudice is one source of self-esteem. People with high self-esteem maintain their high self-esteem by prejudice, whereas people with low self-esteem have low self-esteem because they don’t engage in prejudice.
A lot of studies have been done to study the relationship between prejudice and self-esteem. Both experimental as survey studies. The results, however, were inconsistent. Why is this? Some say that both high and low self-esteem people are prejudiced, but that they express this in different ways. High self-esteem people may express this directly, like saying negative things about others. They may receive criticism because of this, but their high self-esteem buffers them against this. People with low self-esteem already have a low view of themselves and therefore want to avoid any other criticism. They therefore express their prejudice indirectly, like avoiding outgroups. Most research uses direct measures of prejudice and that’s the reason why indirect indicators of prejudice have been overlooked and the conclusions based on these outcomes have not been complete. Another possibility is that self-esteem is indirectly related to prejudice, like through another variable. Researchers have found a small correlation between self-esteem and attitudes towards guys, but a much larger correlation between both self-esteem and contact with gays and between contact and attitudes towards gays. Higher self-esteem leads to more contact with gays and more contact leads to more positive attitudes. A third possibility is that there are two kinds of high self-esteem: secure high self-esteem and defensive high self-esteem. The first type means you really have a positive view of yourself, the second means that you actually don’t feel secure about yourself but you act as if you do feel secure about yourself. Both get high scores on traditional measures of self-esteem. One research did study the difference of these two types and found that people with secure high self-esteem expressed less intergroup bias than people with defensive high self-esteem.
Prejudice protects self-esteem and if self-esteem is threatened, prejudice will be increased. After expressing prejudiced views, one’s self-esteem will be higher again. It also works the other way around. Researchers gave one group compliments and reinforced their self-esteem, while they didn’t do anything to the other group. The group without any reinforcing showed the typical intergroup bias when being asked questions about certain outgroups and the group with the reinforced self-esteem didn’t show the intergroup bias. So, reinforcing self-esteem prevents prejudice.
Values are certain beliefs people hold about goals they want to achieve in life and outcomes they should try to avoid. Things that are perceived as consistent with one’s values are judged to be good and things that are seen as inconsistent with one’s values are judged as bad. There are different theories about values and prejudice. There are two general categories of values that are related to prejudice. One of these is individualism and the other is egalitarianism. The first one related to values emphasizing the importance of self-reliance and the second one emphasizing the importance of all people being treated equally.
A lot of Western countries place a lot of value on self-reliance and independence from others. Early in history individualism was seen as the route to success in life. Individualism and prejudice can be linked by group stereotypes. Groups that violated the principles of individualism are seen as negative. Usually people who hold these pro-individualism views, see African Americans and fat people as the ‘bad people’ because of their laziness. Also, a part of individualism is self-restraint. Therefore, gay men are sometimes seen as ‘wrong’. This is because self-restraint is avoiding pleasure seeking and gay men are often stereotyped as constant pleasure seekers.
Egalitarianism reflects an emphasis on the principles of equal opportunity and a concern for other’s well-being. Egalitarianism inhibits prejudice. Whites who endorse egalitarian values can inhibit prejudice in two ways. The first way is feeling sympathy for Blacks (this is the theory of ambivalent prejudice) or they try to avoid the threat to self-concept that can bring negative feelings towards Blacks (the theory of aversive prejudice). Individualism affects prejudice only when the outgroup has certain values that are in contrast to the values of the ingroup. Egalitarianism, however, counteracts all forms of prejudice.
How can egalitarianism work? Stereotypes must be activated before they can have an effect on people’s thoughts. People that hold egalitarian values have a smaller chance to get the stereotypes activated than people who don’t hold egalitarian values. Egalitarianism inhibits prejudice by preventing the activation of negative stereotypes.
Perceive value differences
Prejudice is partly based on the perception that the value system of the outgroup differs from the value system of an ingroup. These values guide judgments of good and bad and therefore prejudice can exist when one holds other values than others. This is called the value difference hypothesis. People like others that look like them and this also works for groups. In the next section research about the relation of perceived values and prejudice is discussed.
This hypothesis holds that people are prejudiced because they believe that the outgroup does not hold the same values as they do. Usually, Whites think that Blacks and gays hold other values and live life differently than they do. These beliefs are also called symbolic beliefs. Usually the prejudice of majority groups towards minority groups is discussed, but this works the other way around as well. Minority groups also hold certain beliefs about majority groups.
Terror management theory
This is the hypothesis that prejudice exists because people want to promote and defend their beliefs and values. This is rested in two characteristics: self-preservation and the knowledge that death is inevitable. Because of this, people try to avoid the unavoidable death and this leads to terror. Humans have tried to deal with this and they found different ways to do this. One way is to develop worldviews that promise immortality. This can take two forms. It can be literal, like religions suggest. They believe that souls live on after death. It can also be symbolic. This means that people have social institutions, like family and that one can leave children and a good reputation after one’s death. Because culture can buffer the terror of death, people want to defend culture from groups with different worldviews. If people’s views get challenged, they want to reinforce their faith in their culture. One way to do this is to reject the people who challenge their worldviews. Also, if an outgroup member acts according to the ingroup’s stereotype of this person, the ingroup will act more favourably because their worldview (how the outgroup is) has not been challenged then. Being aware of one’s inevitable death can increase people’s feelings of identification with their own group. This can also lead to more prejudice and even accepting negative actions towards members from the outgroup which one would otherwise condemn.
The attribution-value model
This model proposes that prejudice exists because minority group members have characteristics that are contrary to majority group values. Also, members of minority groups are seen as responsible for those characteristics. Because negative characteristics arouse negative emotions, prejudice results when groups are perceived to be responsible for their negative characteristics. So, dislike of fat people stems from the belief that fat people are lazy. The attribution-value model does not apply to all forms of prejudice. This exists because of two things.
The first one is naturalness. This is the extent to which group membership is seen as biologically based. Women can’t change into men but Republicans can become Democrats. The second one is entitativity, the extent to which group members are seen as the same (can you recognize them as being part of that group). Gay men are seen as being high on entitativity and low on naturalness. Therefore, gays are seen as being responsible for their choice and people will hold more negative views about them.
Ideologies are beliefs that make people view the world in a certain way and to respond in a way consistent to these views. Ideologies are important to satisfy one’s psychological needs. Also, they give people goals to strive for.
Religion is a vague concept to prejudice. This is because it’s sometimes linked with prejudice and sometimes it isn’t. Religions teach intergroup tolerance and people would expect that the ones who are more involved in religion, also would show less prejudice. Research, however, shows otherwise.
Religious leaders and psychologists did not expect these findings. They decided not to concentrate on the extent to which people are religious but on the way people are religious. Some people belong to a church because it’s safe and powerful and these people usually have an authoritarian character. Some people belong to a church because of their ideals. These ideals evolved into two concepts. One of them is the intrinsic religious orientation and people with this orientation really believe in their religion’s teaching and live their lives according to them. These people are usually unprejudiced. The second orientation is the extrinsic religious orientation. This is used to achieve goals that are nonreligious. People with this orientation pay little attention to religious teachings and are more likely to express prejudice. This orientation is linked to prejudice and the intrinsic orientation is not. This does not mean that people with the intrinsic view don’t hold prejudiced beliefs; they just don’t show it on questionnaires (socially desirable answers). Some research, however, has found that although intrinsic orientation people want to give social desirable answers, they also are unprejudiced.
There is also a third type of religious orientation. It’s called quest orientation. This is a view of religion as a quest for answers to life questions. This orientation reflects open-mindedness and willingness to change. This type is negatively correlated with prejudice.
Most religions teach tolerance towards outgroups. Some outgroups, however, are more tolerated than others. Usually religions are against racism, but they can be for another form of prejudice, like discriminating gay men or lesbians. Researchers think that intrinsic religiosity is negatively correlated with proscribed prejudice and positively correlated with permitted prejudice. So it’s negatively correlated with racism and positively related to discrimination against gays. Quest orientation is negatively correlated to both forms of prejudice. Quest people are tolerant of attitudes that differ from their own, but they’re not tolerant of religions that differ from their own (like fundamentalism).
Religious fundamentalism is the view that there’s one clear religion with fundamental, essential truth and opposed evil forces that must be fought. These people live religion in everyday life. They are usually prejudiced.
Usually people think that conservatives are prejudiced. Research has supported this view. Why does this relationship exist? One explanation is that SDO is responsible for prejudice. It’s not conservatism that produced prejudice, but some concepts of SDO. Conservatism holds some dimensions of SDO, like legitimizing myths. Another explanation is that conservative people see people more as responsible for their own life outcomes, like poverty, than other political orientation do. Liberalism sees this differently. Liberals see the poverty of Blacks as not their own fault, but rather blame it on the bad economic situation. Are liberals not prejudiced then? Yes, they are but this is a different form of prejudice than conservatism has. Conservatives exhibit modern-symbolic prejudice, whereas liberals exhibit aversive prejudice.
Social policy attitudes
As told in the text above, conservatism is associated with modern-symbolic prejudice and liberalism with aversive prejudiced. Like people with the modern-symbolic prejudice view, conservatives have negative attitudes towards social policies intended to increase intergroup equality. They are more opposed to affirmative action than liberals. This is because conservatives are more prejudiced than liberals. Also, conservatives are anti-egalitarian. They also oppose these actions because they believe in fairness and according to them, programs that are carried out by the government are not fair. They think that minority group members get preferential treatment. They are usually more against affirmative action for Blacks than for women, because they think that women are more deserving of help than Blacks (because Blacks are perceived as lazy).
As said before, adults use stereotypes to classify and order their world. Children form categories on the same basis as adults and they also do this to simplify the world. But children have more limited mental abilities and will therefore need categorization even more. Categorization lets children free some mental resources for other tasks. Life without categories would be chaotic and unconvenient categorization helps people develop a picture of the social world. Children see that all people differ and if they did not, their world views would be inaccurate. Some children who noticed this will be prejudiced, others will not. Researchers who study children’s awareness divide awareness in two types: explicit and implicit. The first one is explicit awareness and the second one implicit awareness. Explicit awareness means conscious awareness to social groups. Children may also be aware of conscious groups before they learn to speak. This is implicit awareness.
Implicit awareness of social groups
Before children start producing words about categories, they are aware of groups of social categories. They can discriminate between gender, age and race. Even infants can discriminate between social categories. Babies were shown a certain picture a couple of times, until they got familiar with this picture. Some of the babies then got to see another picture with a person from another social group than the first one. So this was a picture from someone who was from a different gender or another race then the first one. Babies spend more time looking at this picture, than at a picture of a person from the same group as the first one. This means that they see differences between groups. Race was not a meaningful category for them. From a certain age, however, children start differentiating between races. Infants also differentiate between races. Infants also differentiate between physical attractiveness. Research found that infants look more at attractive faces than non-attractive faces. This might stem from the perception that something beautiful is something good. That’s why infants stare at them.
By the age of 2,5 years, children have learned how to use gender labels appropriately. One research gave children a set of photos to put together and they were free to make their categories. White 7 year-olds usually used ethnicity to sort the photos. When asked specific tasks, like sorting the photos to play together, they used gender as the category which to sort the photos in. So the context in which one sorts the photographs, influences the way in which children categorize them.
One way to examine categorization in children is the doll-technique. Examiners give a child two dolls, one white and one black. They then ask which doll looks like a white child. Three year-olds don’t know the correct answer, but four year-olds do usually know the correct answer. Preschool years are critical in the development of awareness of social groups based on race. That is, only between Blacks and Whites. Chinese and Latinos are differentiated at a later age. This might be because children might not see perceptually obvious features distinguishing Whites, Chinese and Latinos. Between the age of five and seven children learn to distinguish between Whites and Chinese people. Identifying Latinos was more difficult. Between the age of four and nine, children learned how to distinguish between Latinos and Whites.
The development of prejudice
Recognizing different social categories does not mean that one prefers one category over the other. Children add values to social categories and some call this category preference, others call this prejudice. Category preference means that children prefer one group over the other. This does, however, not mean a derogation of other groups. People sometimes think that children are prejudiced or discriminate. They sometimes exclude other children from activities. But it’s hard to say if it are negative attitudes that underlie this type of behaviour. Even when children verbally express prejudice, they don’t know truly what they are saying or the effect it has on the children they say it to.
Development of racial prejudice
It is sometimes hard to examine children on their prejudice. The most commonly method used on children’s attitudes about race is the Preschool Racial Attitude Measure (PRAM). Children are forced to choose one of two options here. They usually have to choose from photographs or listen to a story and answer questions based on the story. A problem with this method is that by choosing one category over the other, children do not automatically reject the other category. If a child chooses the white child, it does not mean that he or she rejects the black child. Maybe a child likes both children, but just likes one more than the other. If you use a continuous measure of prejudice, you can overcome this problem. One of these measures is the social distance scale. One of the questions from this scale is ‘Would you feel comfortable living next to a Black family?’ Children can choose from five answers, ranging from yes, definitely and no, definitely. The child is not forced to choose from two alternatives. When asked about it with a continuous scale, white children preferred other white children the most, but only slightly more than other ethnic groups. So, they did not just have negative attitudes about children from other ethnic groups.
Another measure is looking how often children interact with other ethnicities. The assumption is that children do not interact with those they dislike. Sometimes children are also asked how much they like to interact with every classmate.
White children begin to develop positive and negative racial attitudes between the ages of three and four. Racial prejudice reaches it’s highest level at the age of five to seven years old. Children who were five gave the highest racial stereotypical responses, while children of eight and nine years gave the lowest stereotypical responses. Prejudice seems to decline after the age of nine.
Black children begin to develop racial attitudes at the age of three to four years. At the age of three, black children’s attitudes were either pro-Black or unbiased. There has no typical ethnic attitude been found between the ages of five and seven years in black children. Some had unbiased attitudes, while some had pro-black or pro-White attitudes. Between the ages of seven to ten years, the pro-White bias disappears and children are more pro-Black. This does not mean, however, that they dislike Whites. They just become neutral to them. The children who used to be pro-White become neutral, those who were neutral become pro-Black and those who were pro-Black become even more pro-Black. Blacks show more variability in their social preference patterns than Whites. This is maybe because black children have more complex views of racism than white children.
Children from other ethnicities show the same pattern of attitudes as the black children. Biracial children reflect both black and white attitudes.
Some researchers don’t want to assess young children’s attitudes directly. Children are easily distracted or just don’t want to answer your question. Researchers who observe children’s behaviour found results that contradict the previous part about the development of racial attitudes in children. That research showed that preschool children preferred to play with somebody from their own ethnicity. Observation studies, however, show that preschool girls preferred to play with girls their own race and preschool boys showed a pro-White preference. Contradictory results were also found for older children.
Development of gender-based prejudice
Toddlers begin to develop gender stereotypes before they can say ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. Children of 2,5 years old know what their own gender is and what the gender of others is. This does not mean that they understand the whole idea of gender. They don’t express gender roles, this is what they start doing at the age of nine. When they are two, they already know which toys are for girls and which are for boys. In Western cultures, children start to show a same-sex preference around the age of three. In different cultures, same-sex preference occurs earlier or later in life. In cultures where mixed-sex groups are more common, homosociality, same-sex preference occurs later in life.
When children get older, a shift occurs. When 4,5- year old children were asked which group –boys, girls, tomboys or sissies- they disliked the most, they said tomboys. When 8,5-year old children were asked the same question, they said sissies. This is because older children value male characteristics more than female characteristics in both sexes. During preadolescents, boys and girls liked gender-role traditional girls the most. This is not surprising, because prejudice becomes less prevalent as children become romantically interested in one another.
Theories of prejudice development
The social learning theory can explain many aspects of social development in terms of three learning processes. The first one is direct teaching. That means that an individual is rewarded for behaving in a certain way. The second is observational teaching. This is imitating the attitudes or behaviours of a parent, peer or role model. The third one is vicarious learning. This means that the child sees someone else be punished or praised for a certain behaviour and learn from this.
Direct teaching of prejudice does not occur a lot: parents rarely discuss prejudice with their children. But when parents are members of hate groups, direct teaching of prejudice will occur. Schooling can also be a source of direct teaching of prejudice. Some people put their children on ‘Aryan-only’ schools or let them be home schooled so they won’t be corrupted by minority groups. Teaching of prejudice usually occurs directly in extremely racist families, but the most teaching of prejudice is indirect.
When examining prejudice, researchers examine the correlation of children’s attitudes with that of their parents. Usually, there is no correlation found. How can this be? Well, the effect of parental prejudice may operate through other factors. Prejudice can have an impact on issues like tolerance and political beliefs. Parents influence their children’s prejudice rather indirectly than directly. Mothers usually influence their children’s views on race and weight and fathers influence views on sex-role attitudes and homosexuality.
Children can also learn things from the television or other media. People in books or series are usually portrayed in gender stereotypic roles. Also, some ethnicity groups are not often portrayed on the television and children might think that these groups are therefore not really important.
Inner state theories
Inner state theories think that prejudice is caused by something inside the person. Like said before, people with the authoritarian personality are more likely to hold prejudiced views. People with this personality had to obey strict rules when they were young and were punished severely. The child experienced psychological conflict. On the one hand, he hated his parents and wanted to rebel, but on the other hand the child was afraid to rebel. Because of this conflict, the authoritarian personality arises.
Punitive child-rearing practices lead to a conforming personality and this child sees the world as a threatening place. The child will seek security and control. Usually someone can find this in authoritarian political ideologies. In contrast, tolerant child-rearing practises lead to an independent personality and the people see the world as a safe place. They adopt social ideologies that emphasize personal freedom.
Some scientists, however, reject the role of childhood experiences as a source of authoritarianism. They think that authoritarian beliefs are adopted by socialization. This occurs in adolescence, because young children can’t understand the issues on which authoritarianism is based. There are two main sources of social learning. The first one is parents. Parents teach children to obey them and to obey authority figures. The second source is personal experience.
Cognitive development theories
These theories think that children’s ability to understand the nature of social groups and their relations, influence their intergroup attitudes. Because cognitive abilities change, intergroup attitudes also change. These theories suggest that prejudice may be unavoidable at certain stages of one’s development but that it is not permanent and may decrease or disappear as the child grows older.
Piaget’s theory is one of the most popular theories of child learning processes. The theory proposes that children move through four stage of cognitive development:
Sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years): Children can’t internally represent people and therefore can’t hold attitudes about people and there’s no prejudice.
Preoperational stage (2-7 years): Children focus on themselves and can’t take someone else’s perspective and they only focus on one piece of information.
Concrete operational stage ( 7-11): Thoughts are logic and systematic, but are concrete and not abstract.
Formal operational stage (12 and above): In this stage the child starts to think abstractly.
According to Piaget, developing prejudice goes through some of these stages. When children are four to seven years old, they think everybody is the same. When children are seven to ten years old, they focus on their social groups and they conceptualize other groups in terms of how they differ from their own groups. This also comes with positive attitudes towards their group and negative attitudes towards other groups. Piaget’s theory does not completely match the previously discussed findings. Piaget thinks that prejudice reaches its highest levels at the age of seven to twelve years, whereas research says that it is five years and that it declines after the age of eight years.
Aboud revised Piaget’s theory and came with his own theory. He thinks that different children can proceed through three stages at different ages. It all depends on one’s cognitive development. People might react differently towards people who are not their own ethnicity, because they have stranger distress. This means that anyone who looks different than who the child knows is seen as a stranger and the child fears this person. So the first stage of prejudice does not take the form of anger, but a form of fear and is expressed as social exclusion. In the second stage, children notice the similarities and differences between themselves and others. People start to categorize others according to social group membership. Children start to exaggerate the differences between their own group and other groups and this is the beginning of prejudice. Eventually children will become aware of similarities between their group and other groups and they might become more cognitively flexible and will prejudice less. In the third stage, children don’t just categorize on social group membership, but also on people’s individual qualities.
Developmental intergroup theory
This theory holds that the development of prejudice is a by-product of the cognitive development through which children come to understand the world.
According to this theory, the development of prejudice proceeds in three stages. In the first stage, children develop rules for group categorization. They focus on the physical characteristics, like skin colour and can’t focus on abstract characteristics. Also, children look at how adults classify other groups and they usually use the same system as adults. Also, children learn from society how to group people. When children have made these categories, they can assign people to them. They can start doing this when they realize that one’s membership in a category does not change over time. The complexity of the categories children form can change over time. When they just focused on just one single piece of information, they may later focus on more pieces of information to form categories. At a certain point in time, there will be a drop-off in prejudice according to this theory. Not all researchers agree with this drop-off. Some say that real change occurs in someone’s social ability and one sees that other groups are not so bad after all. Others say that this drop-off is not a real change, but that children might try to control their prejudice because they think society thinks it’s bad.
Researchers used to think that desegregating school would lead to a less prejudiced environment between children. Desegregation, however, is no integration. If you just ‘drop’ Whites and Blacks at one place, they will not just improve their relationship with each other. You have to integrate these groups. If you really want to reduce prejudice, the groups must have the same status at school, the children must get to know each other and the groups must work with each other. This brings a lot of positive intergroup effects and even an influence on the long-term effects. People who attended desegregated schools, had friends from other social groups later in life.
Another way to help intergroup relations is education. Children should learn about the characteristics of other groups in society because ignorance is a major cause of prejudice. Anti-bias education is also used to educate children. This type of education teaches children things about bias and shows them how it affects people.
According to the realistic conflict theory, groups dislike other groups because they compete against them for resources. People want to maximise their rewards in life, even if that means taking it away from other people. This leads eventually to prejudice. Research on the realistic conflict theory usually occurs with two equal groups. John Duckitt, however, pointed out that conflicts also arise between different conflict groups. Duckitt developed a schema based on types of conflict that may occur when there’s direct intergroup interaction. The first type is the competition with an equal group. Groups see each other as a threat because of the resources. This will lead to hostility. If one group wins from the other, this group will usually lead to a domination of the outgroup by the ingroup. The dominant group holds negative attitudes towards outgroups. How does a subordinated group respond to the dominant group? One way is stable oppression. That’s accepting the dominance over them and avoiding conflicts that way. Oppressed groups may also take on the dominating group’s value system, rejecting their own group values. This is called false consciousness. Because of this, members of subordinate groups start to believe that they are inferior and that they deserve the treatment they get. Subordinate groups can also show unstable oppression. These groups reject the stereotypes and develop hostility towards dominating groups. What does the dominating group do then? One of their responses could be to see the challenges as unjustified. They see the subordinated group as threatening. They start acting more hostile and reinforce their view that the subordinated group is inferior. If the dominating group sees the challenge as justified, the subordinated group is given the power to demand change. The dominating group can start treating the subordinated group with true tolerance. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case.
Social identity theory
Social identity is part of a person’s self-concept that derives from membership in groups. Groups can include family, nation and college. A person identifies with a group and when something happens to the group, the person feels like it’s happening to him/her as well. This is because your group is part of your social identity. So someone’s view about your group also reflects his/her view on you.
When people identify with a group, they see the ingroup in a positive light and the outgroup in a negative light. Even when groups don’t interact, they show an ingroup bias towards their own group. There are two hypotheses that explain the ingroup bias effect. These are the categorization-competition hypothesis and self-esteem hypothesis.
The first hypothesis holds that categorizing oneself and others into an ingroup and an outgroup is sufficient enought to generate intergroup competition. An outgroup homogeneity effect occurs: members of the outgroup are seen more similar to each other than they actually are and the ingroup members are seen as distinct from each other. Because of this, differences between the ingroup and outgroup seem to be greater than they actually are. This process results in people taking an ‘us versus them’ mentality. The groups start competing with each other and if this happens a lot, outgroups can be seen as the cause of society’s problems. Keep in mind, that intergroup bias only occurs when there are two groups. When there is more than one outgroup, intergroup bias will decrease because people’s feelings of competition are defined across more outgroups.
The self-esteem hypothesis is the other hypothesis. People are motivated to achieve and maintain positive social identities. Social identities interact with personal identities and therefore having a positive social identity leads to positive self-esteem. This can also have affects on intergroup bias. Intergroup bias results in an increase in positive social identity by showing that the ingroup is better than the outgroup. Because engaging in intergroup bias can raise self-esteem, people with low self-esteem will engage in intergroup bias to raise self-esteem. When an event threatens someone’s self-esteem, this person can defend his/her self-esteem through intergroup bias. Research has found that high self-esteem correlates more with bias than people with low self-esteem. This does not mean that what was previously said about intergroup bias and low self-esteem isn’t true. It only shows that there are different forms of bias and that these can be expressed differently.
Factors influencing social identity
People can belong to different groups. What factors can affect what social identities or identity are activated?
One of these factors is self-categorization. People are assigned to groups because of certain features. People are more likely to accept this social identity if they self-categorize. That means deciding for themselves to which groups they belong to. This usually depends on the context. People look for distinctiveness; this means the things in which they differ from others. An Asian woman is more likely to identify herself as an Asian when she is surrounded by Whites. She will identify herself as a woman when she’s surrounded by men. Because of this, social categorization changes from situation to situation. One result of self-categorization is that when social identity increases and personal identity decreases, group identities and goals become more important than personal identity and personal goals. This is called self-stereotyping. There is also another factor for self-categorization. This is the need for certainty. People have a strong belief that their attitudes are correct. Uncertainty is unpleasant, because people have little control over their lives. People are always motivated to reduce uncertainty in their lives and they usually do this by checking if their own beliefs are correct. One way to do this is by identifying with a group. Group beliefs replace less certain personal beliefs. This reinforces self-categorization. When they are uncertain about certain norms in situations, they will identify with groups that provide reduced feelings of uncertainty.
One short-coming of the self-stereotyping hypothesis (that belongs in the self-categorization theory) is that people need to experience themselves as unique individuals. Brewer developed a modification to the self-categorization theory. Which she calls optimal distinctiveness theory. This theory holds that people will most likely identify with groups that provide the most satisfying balance between personal identity and group identity.
There are also other factors that influence social identity. One of those is the threat to a group. When a group is threatened, them members identity stronger with the group. Individual differences can also influence social identity. Some people for example, identify more often with ethnic groups than with other groups they belong to.
Issues in social identity theory
There are some issues surrounding the social identity theory. Some of these include whether social identity processes can lead to outgroup derogation and ingroup favouritism, the factors that determine whether someone will respond with aggression to a fellow group member and the relation between social identity and intergroup tolerance.
Research showed that favouritism towards members of the ingroup does not automatically mean that the outgroup will be treated badly. People are not only part of their own group, but also part of a society that consists of more groups. Usually these other groups are respected. When we hear about the research findings, we wonder how this can be, because there are examples of group favouritism leading to discrimination. Why is this? Well, sometimes one group member is hurt and other group members decide to take revenge even if they themselves have not been harmed. This is called vicarious retribution. There are certain factors on which showing vicarious retribution depends. Some of these factors are motivation, whether the initial aggressive act was due to conflict between the ingroup and outgroup, group pride and cultural norms (especially whether cultural norms suggest that retaliation is approved).
Research is now focusing on how social identity relates to intergroup tolerance. Some researchers suggest that ingroup identification can lead to tolerance rather than hostility. This is the case when the ingroup doesn’t see their own values as more valid than those of the outgroup. Also, the more complex someone’s social identity is, the more tolerant to other groups that person will be. People with one social identity focus only on that one identity and see only people who share that one identity as part of the ingroup.
Relative deprivation theory
This theory focuses on how people become dissatisfied with some aspects of their lives and how they react to that. People can become dissatisfied because they compare their current situation with a situation they once experienced or compare themselves to other people currently in their situation. They then feel that they have been deprived of something (usually resources). Their objective situation might be very good; yet they feel that relative to what they had or relative to others, they have little resources.
That’s why this is called relative deprivation. If people blame another group for their deprivation, they might come to resent them. When people from societies expect that certain factors will improve and these don’t, they will feel deprived of them. Feelings of deprivation might also arise when procedural justice is low. This is farness of the process by which rewards are distributed. If someone expects a certain award for an accomplishment and gets something else, less rewarding, he or she might feel deprived. Especially when another person gets the reward the first person wanted while the first person thinks that this person did not deserve this reward.
There are two types of relative deprivation: the first type is personal (or egoistic) relative deprivation. This is the degree to which a person feels deprived as an individual. Group (or fraternal) relative deprivation is the second type of deprivation. This refers to the degree to which a person feels that a group he/she identifies with has been deprived of something. Group relative deprivation is related to prejudice and personal relative deprivation is not.
People can also feel that things are getting better. This is called relative gratification. This seems positive, but relative gratification may also lead to prejudice. This may occur because people who are relatively gratified focus on their groups’ superior position relative to outgroups. They say negative things about outgroups because they try to justify their advantaged position.
Sometimes, as you have read a couple of times throughout this text, people express prejudice against people who played no role in their relative deprivation. This is called scapegoating. An example of this is the Nazis blaming the Jewish people for all their economic problems. Scapegoating provides a group with a villain to whom the group can ascribe all the problems to. There are two theories that have tried explaining scapegoating. The first one is the frustration-aggression-displacement theory and the second one is the ideological theory.
The frustration-aggression- displacement theory holds that frustration causes aggression and that his aggression is preferably expressed towards the source that caused the frustration. If this is not possible, the aggression will be expressed towards an available target. Research, however, did not find significant results for this. As second shortcoming is that this theory is a theory of individual behaviour, not group behaviour and that it can’t be explained why some groups are seen as scapegoating and others not.
Ideological theory begins with relative deprivation. If there’s no clear cause for this deprivation, people search for one. If an ideology is found that can explain the relative deprivation, people will take up this ideology. Also, an ideology can give a positive social identity. There are some factors that influence a group of becoming a scapegoat. Scapegoats usually have little power, so they can’t resist actions taken against them. They usually are disliked and stereotyped and usually seen as a threat to the ingroup.
Integrated threat theory
The different theories that were discussed (like the realistic conflict theory, the social identity theory and relative deprivation theory) are closely linked. The integrated threat theory combines these theories. According to this theory, there are three types of threats to one’s ingroup: intergroup anxiety, perceptions of realistic threats and perceptions of symbolic threats. Intergroup anxiety consists of factors that make people feel anxious to be around members of other groups. Perceptions of realistic threat derive from conflicts between groups. Symbolic threats come from perceptions that outgroup and ingroup differ in values, attitudes and beliefs. Usually the ingroup thinks that the outgroup is trying to undermine these values. Identification with the ingroup is associated with more investment in group values and seeing more differences between groups. Because of this, people who identify more with the ingroup, perceive the outgroup more as threatening.
Hate group membership
A hate group is a group whose central principles are hostility towards racial and religious minority groups. Most hate groups glorify White supremacy and are for segregation of groups. Some hate groups are religious, others are not and some hate groups are well organized while others are loose coalitions of small groups. Hate groups hold certain activities, like meetings, rallies, protests, running websites and producing racist music. Although these groups sound very dangerous, they rarely initiate violent activities. The next section will deal with studying the psychological factors that predispose people to join a group, how to recruit new members, how to teach them how to behave and what leads people to leave a group.
Joining hate groups
There are different factors that lead people to join hate groups, not just one factor. One of these factors is racial attitudes. People, who don’t hold racial attitudes, are less likely to join hate groups. Most hate groups express everyday racism or cultural racism. They propose that the only correct social values are the European Christian values. This promotes negative stereotypes towards minority groups. Everyday racism is displayed as making jokes about minority groups and feeling uncomfortable in their presence. They see themselves as unprejudiced. Once a person gets into a group, this everyday racism can turn into extraordinary racism. This is extreme racism.
Another factor for joining hate groups is searching for solutions. When something bad happens to someone, he or she wants to know why this happened, what the causes were of this event. By joining hate groups, they think they can find an answer to this question. People search for a certain purpose in life and thinks they can find this in hate groups. Some people join these groups because they have certain grievances. They think that they’ve been treated unfairly and hate groups might say that this is caused by minority members.
Another factor could be the search for close ties. Some people really don’t have a lot of family or friends and they try to find somewhere to belong to. Also, another reason to join hate groups is because one wants to make the world a better place.
Especially young people are sensitive to joining hate groups. One factor is youth rebellion. Sometimes young people just want to rebel against the current political doctrine and join hate groups. Young men also like the violent images the group projects. If brings a sense of danger and this appeals to them. Usually most groups exist of men. This is probably because of the violence such groups promote. Violence appeals less to women than to men. Also, a lot of hate groups promote traditional gender roles.
Recruiting hate group members and group socialization
Having a psychological predisposition to joining hate groups is not enough for actually joining groups. New hate group members must be recruited. The recruiter is usually someone the potential new member knows. This recruiter is somebody the potential new member trusts and respects, like a family member or friend. After gaining the trust of this member, the recruiter will talk about political issues and see if the potential new member feels the same. If the potential new member feels the same, the recruiter will invite him/her to a group event. This event seems to be normal, with some music and food and new recruits will think that this group is ‘just normal’ and not racial maniacs.
Groups socialize new members by a number of things. One of these things is formal education. New members watch videos, read books and get lectures about the group. This, however, doesn’t help that well because a lot of videos are of poor quality and the members will usually tune out. Discussing with other group members, however, give the people a lot of information. Rituals is also a socializing process. This includes singing racist songs, dressing up in ritual clothing and participating in marches. These rituals promote group unity and increase members’ commitment to the group. If one takes action on behalf of a group, one will be more invested in the group. Putting energy in a group means one has more to lose by leaving the group. When one has been part of the group for a certain amount of time, he or she will spend more time with group members then with family members. This has two effects. The first one is that group members receive support for their beliefs; the second one is that they get isolated from information that may contradict their beliefs or views.
People get more extreme beliefs when they are in a group, they seem to see violence as acceptable and they begin to see negative events in the world as being caused by ethnic groups.
Leaving the group
There are two factors that are important for leaving hate groups. The first is disenchantment with the group. This can happen when one’s group membership is disapproved by family members. If the group member wants to keep a tight relationship with his/her family, he or she will leave the group. Also, one might have too little time for his/her job because of the group membership. If he or she really wants to keep his or her job, he or she will leave the group. Some group members leave the group because they’ve lost their faith in the group’s ideology. Another factor for disenchantment is violence. Some members really don’t like the extreme actions/visions of a group and decide to leave.
The other factor is relationship outside the group. Hate group members usually break their ties with family members or friends. When they feel disenchantment with the group, they might not be willing to leave the group, because they don’t have any other support system anymore. When this person establishes an relationship with someone who is not in the group, he or she might be more willing to leave the group. So if you have a friend or family member that joins a hate group, don’t break social ties but keep in touch with this person.
Discrimination is behaving differently towards people because of their group membership. Usually the term is used when someone acts in an unfair manner, but it can also refer to giving someone an advantage. Discrimination can be verbally or behaviourally. There are different forms of discrimination and luckily there is a system to classify them. The different forms will be discussed in the next text.
Forms of discrimination
The system that is used to classify discrimination exists out of three forms of discrimination: blatant, subtle and covert. Blatant discrimination is harmful treatment that is intentional and easy visible. This can happen everywhere. It can occur at school, in the workplace and in a shop. Some forms of blatant discrimination against certain groups are illegal and condemned. An example of this is racial discrimination in school or at work. Discrimination against gay men, however, is legal in most parts of the worlds and is seen as legal.
Subtle discrimination also exists out of harmful treatment, but this type is less visible than blatant discrimination. This form of discrimination is often unintentional and the person that treats the other in a harmful way does not always know that he or she is doing this. When a black child writes good essays, one teacher might not see his actual talent, because he might think that black children are not good in academic things. The child will never be recognized as a talented writer.
Covert discrimination is a harmful treatment that is hidden, intended and maliciously motivated. An example of this is tokenism. That is hiring someone from a minority group, just to show that the firm doesn’t discriminate. Another example is restricting members of a group to a limited number of job categories. This type of discrimination doesn’t only happen in the workplace. It can also happen in the housing market. One real estate agent may say to a family of a minority group that a certain house is of the market, when it in fact isn’t. Also, landlords discriminate against prospective renters.
This type of discrimination is a person-to-person discrimination. One person threats a person unfairly because his or her group membership. Usually people think that interpersonal discrimination is caused by prejudice. One would expect a high correlation between prejudice and discriminatory behaviour. Research, however, has found that that there is an average correlation between these two. There is, however, a higher correlation between prejudice and the intention to discriminate. People say that they will do something, but don’t always do it. Prejudice is related to discrimination, but this relationship is complex. There are some factors that influence this relationship. These factors will now be discussed.
The first factor is personal stereotypes. Personal stereotypes are stereotypes of an individual about group characteristics. These stereotypes usually overlap with social stereotypes, but some things are different. Also, not everybody agrees with the social norms of a society. Prejudiced people will discriminate against people who fit their personal stereotype. The second behaviour is attitude-behaviour correspondence. This refers to how well an attitude matches the behaviour it is supposed to be associated with. This can be found in uncontrollable attitudes. One can say that he/she isn’t prejudiced, but his/her automatic, nonverbal behaviour can show otherwise. The third factor is perceived social support. This refers to the extent to which people believe that others share their attitudes and opinions. When prejudiced people find a high-perceived social support, they will be more likely to express discriminatory behaviour than when they find a low perceived social support.
Some people are motivated to avoid appearing prejudiced. This, however, requires a lot of mental work. You must be aware that prejudice is affecting your behaviour and you must change that behaviour consciously in a nonprejudiced response. This is a lot of work. People are in fact relieved when they’re allowed to express prejudices they have been controlling. So, even people who score low on prejudice can sometimes behave in a prejudiced manner. This is called regressive prejudice (or regressive racism). This occurs because controlling prejudiced responses requires mental resources. When this is not available, people don’t control prejudice anymore, but express it.
People might try to look unprejudiced and they may succeed by saying the good things. Their nonverbal behaviour, however, shows otherwise. Uncontrollable behaviour is usually the key for detecting prejudiced attitudes. Even if people are really motivated to control their behaviour, certain factors can work against this process. Cognitive demands can reduce mental resources and therefore reduce control. Another factor has to do with social norms. Usually people try to look unprejudiced, because of social norms. If the effect of the social norms could be reduced, so could the motivation to control prejudice. People comply with norms, because they want to avoid punishment (for acting prejudiced) or receive rewards (for acting not prejudiced). Because of this, people who are anonymous will be less motivated to control their prejudice. Emotions also have impact on this process. People who are angry are less willing to control their prejudice. The last factor that can influence expressing prejudice, is moral credentials. This means that if people know that they have behaved unprejudiced in the past and others have seen this, they will be less motivated to try restricting their prejudiced attitude. If someone tells them that they are prejudiced, they will disagree with this and tell the person about the time that they behaved unprejudiced.
Reactions to having acted in a prejudiced manner
What if you have reacted in a prejudiced manner and someone calls you out on it. What will you do? People who are low in prejudice would feel discomfort, because they see that they should not have responded that way. They also feel guilty. People, who are high in prejudice, also feel discomfort but they don’t feel guilty.
Also, the type of prejudice is important. People usually feel guiltier about racial prejudice than sexism. Also, people are more likely to dismiss the accusation of prejudice when the accusation is made by a member of the group the accusation was made to. This is because the prejudiced person doesn’t feel really threatened by the person from the group he discriminated.
Discrimination in organisations
The first step of a job is the hiring process. Researchers have done a lot of studies to figure out to what extent and in which form discrimination can be found. They usually do this by the employment audit. They train two men, one white and one black, to behave the same way during a job interview. These two men also have the same qualifications and researchers give them even the same close to wear to the job interview. Both men will apply for the same job. Research found that when discrimination occurred, the white person was more likely to be hired than the black person. The form in which discrimination occurs is the offering of interviews. Blacks and Whites were equally accepted to apply for the job, but white applicants were more likely to be asked for an interview. Also, when more than one opening was available and the job was offered to both applicants, the black man usually started with a lower salary. Black people also were sent to a lower job than they applied for. According to employment agencies, some bosses also ask them to not send black applicants. Some researchers think that the employment audits is not a good way of researching the hiring process. This is because both people are different. Even if they wear the same clothes and have the same qualifications, they do not have the same personality. They prefer to test the hiring process with mailed-in résumés. They send in résumés with typical white and typical black names and found out that whites were more likely to be invited for an interview than blacks were. When it does occur that both the black and the white person are asked to come to an interview, it is more likely that the white person will be liked more.
Less discrimination is found in the case of gender. Men are just slightly more likely to be hired for a job then women. Especially when this is a male-stereotyped job. Researchers studies reviews published in the ‘80s and found that gender discrimination was a big issue. So, gender discrimination has decreased over time. One part of gender discrimination, however, is still active. This is pregnancy. Pregnant women are less likely to be hired than women who are not pregnant. The applicants can be seen as equally qualified; still the pregnant women will usually not be hired. This is (of course) because people think that pregnant women are more likely to quit their job or take a lot of days of.
Once you have a job, you will be evaluated on your performance. Positive performance leads to promotions of course. Men and women are usually evaluated positively in the same way. Men slightly received higher evaluations for masculine-stereotyped items and women received higher evaluated for feminine-stereotyped items.
Ethnicity does affect job performance evaluations. White employees receive higher evaluations than black employees, but there was no difference in the evaluations of white and Hispanic people. Some researchers argue that there is no real racial prejudice in this, but that it reflects real racial differences. Black people had lower average scores on objective measures of work performance. This lower level, however, can be caused by discrimination. Because of discrimination, black people might have a different work experience than white people. This may affect their work performance.
There are a couple of workplace characteristics that could aversively affect minority group members’ job performance. One of these is the lost opportunities effect. Because minority and majority group members are treated differently, they may have different job opportunities. Minority group members have less favourable opportunities and because of this, lower performance for these minority members may result. Also, black managers had sometimes problems with prejudice. Black managers feel less accepted than their white peers by their supervisors. Also, white people showed more absence when the number of minority group members increased at their job.
Although women and men receive equal performance ratings, their supervisors see women as having less promotion potential than men. Women have to wait longer for a promotion and they receive fewer promotions the higher they move in the organizational structure. Even there where women receive higher job evaluations, they are not promoted faster than men. Also, men are more likely to be promoted in female-dominant occupations than women. This is called the glass escalator effect. Men, however, experience more negative stereotypes in these occupations. They are usually seen as feminine.
Black workers are less likely to be promoted than white workers, even if they receive the same job evaluations. Also, white employees are paid more than black employees in the same occupation. Even if black workers receive first-level managerial positions, they are more likely to supervise black workers than white workers. Because most black workers are in low-level positions, this means that black managers are found in low-level positions of authority. This is called the sticky floor effect. Also, black workers are more likely to be taken from their career-path and put in another job, because according to the stereotype, they fit better there. One’s mentor can also have influence on salaries and promotions. When someone has a white mentor, he has more chance to earn more money than when he has a non-white mentor or female mentor. Unfortunately, it is usually white people who have white managers.
Individuals in organisations
Organisations do not discriminate, people in organisations discriminate. Individuals enforce discriminatory policies, make discriminatory hiring decisions and give discriminatory job evaluations. This section discusses how individual-level psychological processes influence discriminatory outcomes in organizations.
According to the stereotype fit hypothesis women hold fewer executive positions because the characteristics associated with effective managers are similar to the cultural stereotypes of men and different from the cultural stereotypes of women. Therefore men are seen as better suited for an executive job. When someone sees a job as more masculine, he or she will recommend a man for the job because a man has more masculine features than a woman. The stereotype fit hypothesis also works for ethnicity. People think that certain jobs fit better with the characteristic of white people than that of black people. This also works for low-level jobs. People see black and Hispanic workers as unskilled, unmotivated illiterate and therefore they would not recommend them. Finally, stereotypes can also result in advantage for a group. The Asian stereotype includes being talented in maths and computers. Because of this, they will be more likely to be hired in these kinds of jobs than white people.
Some researchers think that it’s not the decision maker’s group stereotypes that affect discriminatory decisions, but that it’s his or her respect towards the group he or she is making a decision about. People hold different degrees of respect for various groups based on the amount of power the groups have in society. Men have more power than women in society and because more men occupy higher positions than women, men are respected more as a group than women. Greater respect leads to higher hiring recommendations and that masculine stereotypic traits also lead to a higher hiring recommendation.
Another factor that affects promotion is the shifting standard. As said before, women and men receive equal performance evaluations and promotions are based on performance. Why do men then get promoted more than women? This is because of the shifting standards model. Negative stereotypes lead people to hold lower performance expectations for women and member of minority groups. So when somebody rates a women, he or she will probably do this to the expectation he or she has for the performance of a woman. So when a woman is given a 4 out of 5 on job evaluation and a man also got 4 out of 5, it will not mean the same. The 4 of the woman is based on her evaluation in comparison to other women. The 4 of the woman translates to a 4 on the objective scale, whereas the 4 of the man translates to a 7 on the objective scale.
In the employment context, people may show contemporary prejudice. They will say that they didn’t choose for a black man, because certain characteristics and that the decision is not really based on race, while it in fact actually is. A prejudiced employee will focus more on negative characteristics and use this to not hire a black person. He or she might also say that he has to hire white people, because his cliental is mostly white and they would not want to be served/helped by black people. Another reason why people don’t hire black people, is because of company norms. Some companies don’t want minority groups and that’s the reason why an employer doesn’t higher a black employee.
Hate crimes are the most severe form of discrimination. These are criminal offences of which the victims were chosen because of their race, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Hate crimes have not motivation other than attacking a member of a particular group. Most hate crimes are based on the victim’s race or ethnicity. Note that hate crimes can also be against white victims.
So who offends these hate crimes? In the reports of hate crimes, most perpetrators are male. Two thirds of suspects were known by the victim (neighbour, school mate or colleague). This shows that hate crimes are generally not committed by members of hate groups, but tend to be opportunistic crimes.
Motivations for hate crimes
There are four motivations for hate crimes. The first one is thrill seeking, the second one is defending one’s territory from outsiders, the third one is retaliation for a perceived offence committed by an outgroup member and the fourth one is a commitment to a certain ideology. Some researchers think that there is also a fifth factor, peer group dynamics.
Thrill seeking as a motivation for a hate crime is committing a crime because one wants to feel excitement and doesn’t want to feel boredom anymore. This is usually triggered by an immature desire to display power. The only benefit from the effect is usually a sense of one’s own importance and bragging rights. Thrill seekers usually express little animosity toward the group whose members they have attacked. Thrill seekers usually choose as targets people they think will be easy targets. Also, they choose people who are unwilling or unable to report the crime, like Amish people. Thrill seekers usually justify their actions by minimizing the crime’s impact on victims and as harmless fun.
Defensive hate crimes are done because the perpetrators see themselves as protecting their territory from invaders. They don’t want to let outsiders in (their neighbourhood). Usually all-White neighbourhoods portray hate crimes when they don’t want a minority group member to join the neighbourhood.
Retaliatory hate crimes are done, because the offenders seek revenge for a real or rumoured attack on a member of their ingroup. Although they seek revenge, they don’t seek out the person who they believed committed the offence against their ingroup member.
Mission-motivated hate crimes are carried out because of certain commitments to one’s ideology. Some offenders are members of hate groups, but they sometimes act without knowledge of the group’s leader. Leaders of hate groups usually oppose violence publicly, because they see it as a threat to their recruitment efforts.
Many hate crimes are committed by groups of offenders, usually young men who know each other. Peer group dynamics can play an important part in motivating participation in these crimes. Groups sometimes commit this because they will feel stronger and they will feel closer to one another. Peer-motivated hate crimes exhibit little animosity toward their victim’s groups, but they also don’t respect them. They tend to minimize their personal responsibility and say that they did not have a choice. If they did not do it, they would lose the approval of their friends.
One factor that facilitates hate crimes is the acceptance of such behaviour by the community. If the community sees hate crimes as normal and doesn’t condemn it, one is more likely to do it. Some factors that inhibit hate crimes are lack of opportunity. Some people avoid homosexuals and therefore don’t have the opportunity to do this. Other factors are fear of negative consequences. Also, moral beliefs and religion are factors that inhibit hate crimes.
Effects on victims
Hate crime victims experience a lot of psychological distress and feel like they don’t have full control over their lives. They know that hate crime victims are chosen at random and therefore think that they can’t do anything to take control over their lives. Also, some victims don’t believe that the attack on them was not a hate crime, even if the police said so. Another consequence of a hate crime is secondary victimization. This means that the psychological effects are not only seem by the victim of the hate crime, but also on member’s of his or her group. Hate crimes can victimize entire social groups.
Individuals with privileged status define which groups do or do not share their status. The groups that don’t share their status are called stigmatised or deviant groups. Stigmatised groups differ from the privileged group in terms of appearance or behaviour. Members of stigmatised groups violate the norms established by the dominant group and sometimes are punished for this.
It all depends on the culture and historical events which groups will be stigmatised. The Irish and Italians were stigmatised groups in the United States, now they are fully accepted. So laws, cultural events and social norms determine which groups are stigmatised. They are usually stigmatised because they have a certain characteristic that is devalued by the dominant group.
Some stigmas are less severe than others. For example, there are benign stigmas, like acne and short-term illness. These stigmas are less severe than stigmas based on ethnicity, severe illness and sexual orientation. There are five characteristics that can be used to differentiate between harmful and benign stigmas:
Course. Benign stigmas are temporary; the course of this stigma is short. Acne will eventually disappear. The course of negative stigmas can’t be changed.
Concealability. Some stigmas are concealable, this means that they can be controlled by the stigmatised person. One can keep the stigma private or hide it. Concealing a stigma, however, brings guilt and shame to oneself.
Aesthetic qualities. This refers to something that is beautiful and appealing. A lot of stigmas are triggered by physical cues. Less physically attractive people will be more likely to be stigmatised.
Origin. Stigmas that are uncontrollable (like cancer) are seen differently than controllable stigmas (like obesity). The physical characteristics somebody is born with are seen as uncontrollable. People who feel that a stigma is uncontrollable feel more pity and less anger towards the individual than towards an individual with a stigma that is perceived as controllable.
Peril. Some members of stigmatised groups are seen as dangerous. Persons with a mental illness, for example, are seen as dangerous. Groups that are assumed to be more dangerous are more stigmatised than groups perceived as less dangerous.
Stigma by association
When someone from the majority group is associated with somebody from a stigmatised group, he or she will be stigmatised as well. This is called courtesy stigma. So if you interact with a fat person or a gay man, you can be stigmatised. This can have negative effects. Someone could not be promoted because he or she is associated with someone from a stigmatised group. Even if you date somebody with a disability, you might be seen as less intelligent.
A group doesn’t have to be in the minority to be a stigmatised group. Women, for example, are represented in the work force at numbers nearly equal to men. In some work groups, however, women are underrepresented. Because of this, they can be treated as tokens. They can be stigmatised because of this. Usually this token group member will be stereotyped. Group members only look at the characteristics that fit the stereotypes. They usually don’t see the behaviour that does not conform to the stereotype. This is called assimilation. The token group member will usually feel watched, talked about, gossiped about and alone. They receive a lot of heat in the profession they have chosen. Even men can be seen as tokens. This will occur when they chose a profession that is usually seen as a female-profession. Like working in a day care. They will be looked upon as if they have sexual intentions because men don’t usually work in day-care.
Responses to discrimination
People find it difficult to talk about prejudice and discrimination. When you place a majority group and a stigmatised group in one room, they will probably both feel uncomfortable. This is probably because of the ambivalent feelings of the majority group towards the stigmatised group. Stigmatised groups usually notice this. They will react with attributional ambiguity. They will find it difficult to interpret the majority group’s feedback about them, because this feedback can be based on real ability or on pity. Research found that some white people gave more positive feedback to Blacks than to Whites form the same poor performance. So stigmatised group members will wonder if somebody really has positive feelings about them or if he or she is just being nice. Sometimes stigmatised group members will discount the feedback or augment it. By discounting it, they protect themselves. If they receive negative feedback, they could think that this is not based on the truth but on prejudice. They protect themselves this way. When they discount positive feedback, however, their self-esteem will be lowered.
Sometimes people think that their group will be discriminated more as a whole, than the individuals on their own. This is called the personal/group discrimination discrepancy (PGDD). There are two main categories of explanations for this phenomenon. One is the cognitive explanation. The way certain information is presented can inhibit or produce the perception of discrimination. Also, people use different comparison standards when judging their own versus the group’s level of discrimination. When deciding about their personal experience with discrimination people consider their experiences in comparison with their own group members and when deciding about the groups’ discriminatory experiences they compare themselves to other groups. So one woman might feel that she’s better off than most women, but that her group as a whole is not doing so good as men.
Motivational explanations assume that people think they are not personally discriminated against, even when their group is. They might take responsibility and really feel that they didn’t do something the right way, instead of blaming it on discrimination.
Also, when they do acknowledge that they are discriminated, they actually also acknowledge that they are different than other people from their social environment. They do not want this and that’s why they won’t always acknowledge that they’re discriminated. Another reason for not admitting one is discriminated, is because people don’t want to be viewed as whiners.
Consequences of discrimination
Because most minority groups know that there are certain stereotypes about them, they can be fearful of confirming that judgment. If this fear is strong enough, it can really interfere with someone’s achievements, even when there have been no discriminatory actions towards this person. A person doesn’t even have to believe that this stereotype applies to him; still he might fear that others think that the stereotype applies to him. Stereotype threat can affect any group for which a negative stereotype exists. The nature of the threat can also vary for every group. Also, when a minority group member performance a difficult task, he/she will be more likely to be affected by a stereotype threat. Providing role models reduces stereotype threats. When women were presented with a female role model, they performed better on a maths test (women stereotype is that they are not really good at maths) than women who were not presented with a female role model.
Stress can produce mental and physical problems. Discrimination can produce stress. This usually only happens with chronic experience of prejudice, such as repeatedly being stared at, or the experience of a major individual incidence of prejudice, like being threatened by physical violence. Also, certain normative or nonnormative events can influence certain stigmatised groups. Coming-out is a big deal for gay men and women and they may experience stress because of this, because they worry that they will maybe lose their loved ones once they know that they are gay. Some prejudice and discrimination can produce stress through indirect means. Poor children go to poorly schools and usually have parents that are not really supporting them in their academic achievements. Because they also have poor health care, they will be performing less well in school. All these things build up and they can create stress.
Stress usually makes people more vulnerable to illnesses, like catching a cold. A lot of people also get headaches and can’t sleep well. They sometimes deal with this by using alcohol or eat a lot. This is of course, also not good. Stress can also have a long-term effect. People, who have been discriminated and had stress because of this, were more likely to abuse substances. Their children will see this and they will also be more likely to abuse substances.
People usually think that one’s self-esteem will be lowered because of discrimination. Research shows inconsistent findings. Blacks have higher self-esteem than other ethnic groups, even Whites. Out of all ethnic groups, Blacks are disliked the most. Clearly, discrimination has no effect on their self-esteem.
Asians and Hispanics, however, had a lower self-esteem than Whites. Racial identity didn’t improve self-esteem for these groups. This is because these two groups are seen as collectivists. People with this perspective think that the self is flexible and that the group is more important than the self. Maintaining and enhancing self-esteem is not associated with collectivism. Collectivism emphasizes self-criticism, because it leads to self-improvement and doesn’t make one stand out.
Coping with discrimination
One coping strategy against discrimination is psychological disengagement. When one thinks he is going to fail on a test, he is going to tell himself that the test is not that important. Another way is by dismissing the negative feedback. When one gets negative feedback, he will dismiss is at invalid, because it is a source of prejudice. Also, someone can distance himself from the area in which his group is negatively stereotyped. A woman might think that she’ll fail a maths test, but that it doesn’t matter because she does not want a career in maths. She will focus on her good subjects and her self-esteem will not be lowered. Minority groups are discriminated more than once and will develop coping strategies for this. One of these is behavioural compensation. People sometimes compensate for potential discrimination by changing their behaviour in ways that disconfirm the stereotype. An example of this is using jokes by fat people. These people know that they might be discriminated and they therefore decide to be funny so they will be liked and people won’t make jokes probably. If the prejudice is too severe, one can’t compensate.
All cultures have sets of beliefs about traits of men and women and which roles they should have. This is called the gender belief system. This system describes which roles someone has, which attitudes people should have about the roles of men and women and what people should think about those that violate gender-based information. This system influences one’s self-concept and his/her perception of others. The information of the belief system is passed on throughout media, parents and peers. Learning the content of a belief system begins at an early age and continues until an old age.
Stereotypes about men’s traits conclude characteristics such as strong and independent. This cluster is labelled agentic or instrumental. Stereotypes about women’s traits conclude characteristics such as warm and kind. This cluster is called communal or expressive. Traits are not only positive. There are also some negative characteristics associated with the sexes. Women are seen as jealous and moody, whereas men are seen as arrogant and insensitive. The physical characteristics are also part of the belief systems, as well as emotions. People’s beliefs reflect gender polarization, this is the assumption that gender-associated characteristics are bipolar. When one is masculine on a dimension, people expect him also to be dominant on another dimension. People don’t expect that a woman with physical feminine traits has masculine personality traits. Judgments of power and status are associated with gender stereotypes. High-status individuals are believed to have stereotypically male traits and low- status individuals are believed to have stereotypical female traits.
Stereotypes seem to reflect female and male characteristics quit well. Stereotypic beliefs mirror the characteristics women and men use to describe their own traits. Stereotypes seem to be accurate at the group level. This comes with a cost, however. Because people think that stereotypes are accurate, they may use them in the wrong way. They might think that every woman is kinder than every man. They can also be prescriptive. That means that they lead to assumptions about what every woman or man should be like. This can lead to prejudice if a male or female doesn’t fit these assumptions.
There has not been a lot of change over time about stereotypical beliefs. Women have always been seen as communal and that believe will probably stay that way. Male stereotypes have also been stable. One thing that has changed is that women are now seen as more agentic than before. There will probably be more change in the future. As gender roles change, women in competitive, male-associated roles will be more accepted.
Attitudes towards women and men
People think that because men are perceived as having a higher status, they are more liked than women. The opposite is actually true. Women are more liked than men. This is called the ‘women are wonderful’ effect. Women are viewed more positive than men on traditional evaluate measures.
This is also found in measures of implicit attitudes towards women and men. Women were more associated with happy/positive words like good and paradise. But being liked doesn’t mean being treated fairly. Women are still being discriminated against when it comes to work. They are paid less than men in the same function and they also have to wait longer to get promoted.
Subtypes of women and men
Men and women interact in everyday life. To handle information about the world, we use stereotypes. If you want to handle effectively with somebody, you can create subtypes. These subtypes are grouped into occupations, family roles, ideologies, physical features and sexuality-related subtypes. Judgments about these also made between liking and respect. Housewives are usually liked, but not really respected. Businesswomen are respected, but not liked. So whether a man or women is liked depends on the roles they occupy. Usually traditional roles are preferred to modern roles. Women in non-traditional roles are disliked most.
There are two types of modern sexism: hostile and benevolent sexist beliefs. Sexist beliefs propose that women demand special privileges and want to control men through marriage and sex. Benevolent sexist beliefs are more positive beliefs and they propose that women are nurturing and should be taken care of. It sounds weird, but one person can hold both beliefs at the same time. This will, of course, cause ambivalent behaviour. Benevolent beliefs result in the ‘women are wonderful effect’. This, however, only works for women in traditional roles. Benevolent sexists believe women should be ‘shielded’ from high-status roles, because it could stress them out. But because of this, women are excluded from certain roles. Hostile sexists view women who occupy non-traditional rules as a threat to male status and power and they do not like these women because of this.
Women in the workplace
Women have come a long way in jobs. They are still over represented as elementary school teachers and secretaries, but there are more women in high-status (male) jobs than before. Why can’t women occupy more high-status roles? The role congruity theory proposes that people believe that women are less likely than men to be successful in a leadership role. This can prevent women from being hired in these kinds of jobs. If women get a leadership role, the second part of the discrimination comes to play. These women will get lower evaluations than do men in the same roles. This is because it violates the expectation of what leaders should be like. It also violates the expectation of what women should be like. Even women in faculty roles get bad evaluations if they teach male-dominated fields, like chemistry.
Women are discouraged from taking up certain jobs, because they think they would not feel welcome in them. Also, because of the stereotype that women are not good in maths, women will think that they are simply not good enough for a certain job and won’t even try to pursue a career in this.
So what does improve a woman’s chance of getting a male-dominate job? One thing is giving them female role models. If you can show that there are successful women in that field, they will feel more secure about themselves. Also, if women look at certain characteristics of leader roles, like cooperation and affiliation, they will feel more secure because they posses these characteristics.
Boys and men are discouraged from exhibiting feminine characteristics and they are expected to show toughness and violence. They also are expected to show power and strength. Benevolent sexist attitudes toward men reflect the belief that men must be protected and nurtured and hostile sexist attitudes toward men reflect a resentment of their higher status and power. The worst role violation for men is appearing feminine and weak. Boys learn these things at a young age. The roles of men have changed. Men help out more with the children and they also help with the laundry and cleaning up the house. Not to the extent that women do, though.
Heterosexism and sexual prejudice
Lesbians and gay men don’t have the same rights heterosexuals do in most countries. They are not always allowed to marry. The stigma against the group ‘gays’ is called sexual stigma and the stigma against an individual gay person is called sexual prejudice.
People have stereotype beliefs about gay men and lesbians. Stereotypes of gay men are that they are feminine and wear certain clothes. Lesbians are described as masculine, shorthaired and wear masculine clothing. Gay men are rated as more similar to heterosexual females and lesbians are rated as more similar to heterosexual males. People also think that a gay couple and a lesbian couple exist out of one person fulfilling the male roles and one person fulfilling the female roles. The sexual orientation hypothesis predicts that people are more likely to believe feminine men are gay than to believe that masculine women are lesbian. Researchers focus more on gay men than lesbians, because gay men’s sexuality is viewed as more serious than lesbian’s sexuality. Also, lesbian sexuality has been invisible in Western societies for a long time.
Attitudes towards gay men and lesbians
Attitudes towards gay men and lesbians are changing. It used to be a taboo to be gay or lesbian. Nowadays, Western countries are much more accepting of homosexuality. Younger people are more accepting of gays and lesbians than older people. People who are high on right-wing authoritarianism and who hold fundamentalist religious beliefs, have the most negative attitudes towards homosexuality. Heterosexism stems from conformity to authority. People, who know gay men and lesbians personally, are more positive towards homosexuals.
Heterosexual men are more negative towards homosexuals than heterosexual women are. Especially when a gay men is rated, not a lesbian. This is because of the gender roles people are expected to have. Men are not supposed to show their feminine side and gay men usually do. Heterosexuals are supposed to reject femininity and supposed to reject other’s femininity as well. Why don’t men reject lesbians the same way they reject gay men? This is because of the higher status of males. Women are more flexible in their roles.
There is not much research about bisexuality. The research that has been conducted, shows that gay men, lesbians and heterosexuals all have negative attitudes about bisexuals. They think that bisexuals are promiscuous. Heterosexuals also believe that bisexuals are more likely to give their sexual partner a disease.
Homosexuals don’t always feel freely to discuss their love life with others. They are afraid to put pictures up of their lovers and don’t discuss relationships. Gay people have no luxury of discussing their lives with others, a luxury heterosexuals do have. If gay people can’t come out, they will keep their information for them. Because of this, they can fail in conversation. They don’t want to talk to their friends about their love life and this can create distrust. Sometimes, when people do come out, family members might get upset. Not because somebody is gay or a lesbian, but because they are mad that this person didn’t tell them this before.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation is legal in the United States. A lot of people get discriminated because of their sexuality in the workplace. This discrimination can be formal or informal. Gay people might not get hired because of their sexuality. They can also be joked about and harassed. A number of factors make a workplace less heterosexist. If there are more gay people in the workplace, one is more willing to come out. Also, if the organisation has gay-friendly policies the workplace is much better for homosexuals. Also, when a workplace doesn’t allow discrimination against homosexuals, gay people will be more accepted at that place.
In this chapter prejudice on age, ability and appearance will be discussed.
Ageism is when people making judgments about persons because of their age. Youth is values a lot. We can see that in everyday life. When people get older, certain functions get worse. Still, a lot of people of middle and old age say that their age brings them stability and happiness. Older adults who have a good health and a good social support network are more satisfied and complain less than young adults. They are also more likely to experience positive emotions.
Age is divided in three categories: young, middle and old age. Old age is sometimes subdivided into ‘young-old’ and ‘old-old’. Adults in their 20s and 30s are seen as young, those between 35 and 60 as middle age, those between 60 and 75 as young-old and those older than 75 as old-old. Deciding whether a person has reached old age depends on factors such as whether he or she is senile or useless. Older people usually feel younger than their actual age. Sometimes people just don’t want to admit that they are old, even if they’re 85. The reason why people dread aging is because they fear death. Young people deal with this threat by physically distancing themselves from older adults. They can do this by avoiding old people or by exaggerating the differences between them and old people. When people get older, their fear of death levels off. They learn to cope with the inevitable death. They do this by creating a positive self-image. They might find negative examples of aging and then say to themselves that they don’t look like that person. They may also use positive language and refer to themselves as older adults.
Beliefs about old people
Age is a basic social category and one of the first things someone sees about another person. Age-related stereotypes can be punt into four categories: intolerance, health, personality and activity. Some of the characteristics that are part of intolerance are grumpy, critical and getting upset easily. Characteristics of health are walking slowly, problem with the hearing and health problems. Characteristics of personality are old-fashioned, thinking about old days, experienced and likeable. Characteristics of activity are physically inactive, having hobbies and not optimistic. So the older people are usually rated as being less competent, but they are rated as being very warm as well. These beliefs reflect a benevolent ageism. Another big belief about old people is that they are less attractive than younger people. One research found that people, who are seen as ugly, also are seen as being older.
Some people think that there is a double standard for aging. They think that aging occurs at an earlier age and has more serious consequences for women than for men. Research shows that people both men’s and women’s perceived physical attractiveness declines with age, but that the decline for women was perceived as greater. Female’s femininity declined when they aged, but a male’s masculinity didn’t.
Some stereotypes that are associated only with male aging, like balding, are seen as unattractive. Old women hide their age; they also conceal signs of aging, by using makeup and by colouring their hair. So there seems to be a double standard on raging. It is negative for women.
There are different sub stereotypes about old people. Some of them include Golden Ager, Perfect Grandparent and a really popular one is the forgetful old person. Young people perceive forgetting things a bigger problem than old people.
The media has a lot of power on how we perceive certain groups. The media can also influence our view about old people. Usually, old people are not seen much on the television. When they do appear on the television, it is usually in a positive role. Also, when they appear in advertisement, this is usually pharmaceutical advertisement. Even in magazines where old people can order clothes for themselves, there are no old models. The models used are usually women in their 40s. Men usually appear in the subtype of the productive Golden Ager.
Workplace discrimination is the most common form of discrimination against old people. There are more and more cases in which people sue their company because they have been discriminated at the workplace. When older workers lose their job, it is hard for them to find a new one. Even if they do find a job, they get les paid than younger people. Because of the stereotype that older people are inflexible, they might not get hired because of this. Another think people don’t like about the older people is that they talk in a patronizing way.
A lot of people think that old people are always ill. Even health care providers think that. Old people are sometimes treated unfairly when it comes to healthcare. Physicians discussed fewer medical ad psychosocial issues with old people than with young people. Physicians are also more engaged and friendly towards young people than old people. They also respect young people more than they respect old people. Emotional problems old people face are sometimes seen as ‘normal’ and a part of aging. They won’t be treated in a good way and the old people can become depressed. Physicians who treated a lot of old people held more stereotypic beliefs about them than physicians who treated just a few old people. The most important thing to know for old people is that if they think of themselves as young, vital and not willing to fit the old-people-are-useless stereotype, they will live longer lives than older people with negative stereotypes about themselves.
When we think about the disabled, we think about blind, deaf, mentally retarded or orthopedically impaired people. Yet, the legal definition of disability also covers the hidden conditions, like cancer, bipolar disorder, diabetes and heart disease. So disability is a physical or mental impairment that limits some major life activities. There are no objectively defined categories of disability. Also, disability is a social construct. Disabled people are seen as a stigmatised group.
As discussed in a previous chapter, stigmas depend on whether factors are concealable and controllable, but with disabilities this varies. Some disabilities are concealable, like epilepsy, and others are not, like being cripple. Mental illnesses can sometimes be concealable and can be controlled. Disabilities that are seen as controllable are viewed more negatively, than uncontrollable disabilities. Also, disabilities that are viewed as aesthetically unappealing and dangerous are viewed as more negative. You now see that there are a lot of different types of disabilities that are viewed differently. It is therefore hard to draw conclusions about when and why disabled people experience prejudice. Still, it is important to find it, because a lot of disabled people find coping with what others say or think about them harder than coping with their disability.
People in general have positive attitudes towards persons with physical disabilities. They are open to work, date and marry with them. Dating and marrying to a lesser degree than working. Attitudes depend on the social context and the type of disability. Women with disabilities had parents who were less likely to talk to them about sex, dating, marriage and having children. These parents gave negative messages about their sexual and social potential. When people socialize with physical disabled people, they tend to patronize them. Also, prejudice depends on the type of physical disability. Some physically disabled people are more laughed at and stared at than other physically disabled people.
Because physically disabled people are a small percentage of the population, not a lot of people have interacted with them. They don’t know how they have to react to them and don’t know if they have to offer their help or not. They may perceive disabled people as being bitter and that’s why they may try to avoid them. They might get anxious. This can be two different anxieties. The first one is aesthetic anxiety. This stems from the fear that people don’t want to be seen with unattractive people. The second type of anxiety is existential anxiety and this is related to the fear of losing one’s own physical abilities. When a physically disabled person acknowledges that he or she has a disability, it helps him or her a lot.
Stereotypes about people with a mental illness are that they are depressed, unpredictable, dangerous and aggressive. You see that attitudes towards mentally ill people are more negative than attitudes towards physical disabled people. Mental illness is the least socially accepted disability category. People are less willing to be friends with a mentally ill person than with persons with other disabilities. People’s beliefs about mental illness are influenced by how controllable they view the disorder to be. People usually think that mental illnesses are hard to cure and therefore are dangerous. Negative attitudes towards mentally ill people can have a bad effect on the mentally ill: they are less likely to search for treatment.
People who are physically attractive enjoy more many advantages and people who are unattractive can experience prejudice and discrimination. Adults and children from different cultures show a high agreement on which faces are attractive. Symmetrical faces with average features; smooth skin and youthful faces are seen as attractive. People with a muscular body type are seen as healthier and more attractive. Also, beauty is associated with good things. Preference for the attractive results is called lookism. Being attractive is more likely to affect people’s perceived popularity and sociability than their perceived morality. But being attractive has also a downside. Attractive people are seen as being more vain and egotistical.
Height is also a characteristic that people see immediately when they look at someone. Tall people seem to benefit from their stature and small people are viewed negatively. Taller people are more likely to be hired, get more dates and taller men are seen as more powerful than short people. Taller people only have an advantage over smaller people, not over average people when it comes to dating.
Overweight people are more likely to be prejudiced, less likely to get dates and more likely to have low self-esteem than slim people. Being overweight is not concealable and people perceive this as being controllable. Because of this, there are a lot of negative attitudes toward fat people. Fat people are seen as sad, lazy, unattractive and powerless. Prejudice against fat people is learned at an early age. Fat children are often rejected by their peers. When someone’s weight is seen as uncontrollable, this person is viewed less negatively than other fat people. Because of the negative attitudes towards them, fat people are more likely to experience depression and low self-esteem than thinner people. Also, people can get even more fatter because of the negative attitudes towards them; they start overeating. Overweight people are also less likely to be hired and receive lower salaries. They also were less likely to be promoted and less preferred as co-workers.
One way for dealing with unwanted stereotypic thoughts is by suppression. This can work sometimes, but a suppressed stereotype can also come back in greater strength. This is called the rebound effect. People who have suppressed stereotypes later show better memory for traits that are stereotypic. They also have a decreased memory for individuating information. Some researchers think that by suppressing thoughts, you prime them. This makes them readily available for use when suppression is lifted. Because you think ‘I must not think about someone’s ski-colour’, you will be on the lookout for cues that can indicate skin colour. By doing this, the suppressed thought is unconsciously active.
Sometimes stereotype rebound may not occur. One factor that can control for this is low prejudice. Low prejudiced people are less likely to experience stereotype activation. Without activation, there are no stereotypes to be suppressed. Also, when stereotypical thoughts are experienced, these people are highly motivated to suppress them.
According to the self-regulation model, people who see themselves as unprejudiced become sensitised to environmental cues that warn them when they might respond in a prejudiced manner. These people then suppress their prejudiced responses and replace them with appropriate responses. When somebody has acted in a prejudiced manner, he or she will learn from it. This person will remember the cues and the next time he or she encounters the cues, he or she will try to control the prejudice. When people have cues to warn them, they search in their minds for information to make an appropriate nonprejudiced response. When somebody does this a lot, the self-regulation of prejudice becomes automatic over time.
The intergroup theory holds that groups that interact with each other will hold more positive beliefs about each other. This does not always result in the positive effects. Sometimes groups will only show hostility towards each other. There are some conditions that improve intergroup attitudes while having intergroup contact:
Members of each group must have equal status in the situations
The groups must work together to achieve common goals
Participants must get to know each other
The intergroup effort must have to support of authorities
Research has found that contact had a moderate effect on reducing prejudice. Intergroup contact can lead people to engage in new behaviours and this can lead to attitude change. Intergroup contact reduced prejudice in some people. One factor that influences this is the pre-existing intergroup attitudes. People who are low in prejudice have already positive intergroup attitudes and their attitudes towards the other group will probably change in a positive way. People who are high in prejudice are more likely to avoid intergroup contact.
Another factor is intergroup anxiety. People who have anxiety to intergroup contact avoid contact with others and therefore will not come to know how these people really are. The final factor that influences reducing prejudice is the normative climate. If someone’s friends had positive attitudes towards a group, one will also be more likely to have contact with this group.
There are a couple of models that explain how contact reduced prejudice.
The personalization model proposes that intergroup contact reduces prejudice by leading people to see members of the outgroup as individuals and not as members of social groups. When groups work together, they will see the characteristics of the individual group members, they will notice that these people have multiple social identities and that they are complex human beings. One shortcoming of this study is that an increase in liking for the outgroup members doesn’t increase the liking for the outgroup in general.
The salient categorization model proposes that generalization occurs if group members are seen as typical of their group. The outgroup has to be seen in nonstereotypic terms and group membership must remain salient during intergroup contact.
The common ingroup identity proposes that one must induce ingroup and outgroup members into a single group with a common identity. Because they form one group, they will see each other in a more favourable light. They share beliefs and attitudes and this may lead to liking. There is much support for this model. There are, however, two conditions that will not lead to positive outcomes. The first one is when the ingroup thinks that the outgroup will take on their values and beliefs, instead of creating a common identity. This can increase bias. The second factor is that creating a common group can create a new outgroup.
Pettigrew’s combined model holds that all three models are correct. The three models seem to contradict each other. The personalization model concentrates on decategorization, the salient categorization model focuses on maintaining group categories and the common identity model focuses on recategorization. The Pettigrew’s combined model thinks that all these models are correct and represent a different stage of the prejudice reduction process.
The reduce workplace-discrimination a couple of things can be done. The first one is affirmative action. These are voluntary actions taken by the company to reduce discrimination and to be more equal towards different groups. This action is not necessarily to reduce prejudice, but to create a divorce work force consisting out of majority group members, minority group members and women. Affirmative action can also have economic benefits for companies. Sometimes affirmative action programs can lead to more prejudice against a group. One person might feel angry, because someone has benefited from affirmative action.
Another way to reduce prejudice in the workplace is carrying out diversity programs. This means that employees learn how to work more effectively with colleagues of different backgrounds. Research is divided about the results of diversity programs. Some research shows that they are effective; while others show that they are not. This is maybe because some diversity programs are poorly conducted, while others are not.
Another important thing to do is managing diversity. This is changing organizational policies to make them more responsive to the needs of women and minority group members.
Changing prejudice into something else
The colour-blind perspective holds that people act as if racial and ethnic groups don’t exist when acting with others. Acknowledging racial membership leads to discrimination, whether against somebody or in the favour of somebody else. Some people, however, don’t like this view, because people think that by pretending something doesn’t exist, all is solved. It’s a case of misrepresentating the reality. You are ignoring other people and their experiences of life.
Another perspective one could take is the assimilationist perspective. This perspective holds that minority groups should take on the behaviours, language and values of the majority group and give up their own culture. People think that by sharing the same culture, there will be no intergroup differences and no conflicts.
The multicultural perspective beliefs that different ethnic identities should not be eclipsed together, but stay preserved and coexist harmoniously. Some people think that this bad, because it encourages separation. Psychologists, however, say there are two important components of multicultural perspective. The first one is that it encourages salient categorization, which can undermine group stereotypes. The second one is that in encourages people to view themselves simultaneously in terms of their ethnic identities and national identities. People should be proud of their ethnic background, as well as their national one. Their common identity is important.
Which perspective is best, the colour-blind perspective or the multicultural perspective? Research has found that higher rates on a measure for colour-blind racial attitudes go together with higher rates on racial prejudice. These people are also less likely to support affirmative action. The multicultural perspective values both the majority groups and minority groups and because of that people feel more secure about their identity and feel less animosity toward other groups. Research encourages people to adopt a multicultural rather than a colour-blind perspective.