Read/review the following resources for this activity:
Stereotypes, unfortunately, are a common side-effect of societal perception of other individuals and groups. No matter who you are, stereotypes & prejudices influence our thoughts and perceptions even if they are unconscious.
Select a group from any culture, country, or society. Describe how stereotypes or prejudices against that group might influence a health care practitioner during treatment. You can select a historical group (for example: plague victims, AIDS patients from the early 1980s) or more recent (immigrants in detention centers or patients with race specific illnesses such as sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs syndrome). Describe common stereotypes of the group you selected. Dissect those stereotypes as to the potential impact they might have on treatment options or decisions or care. Analyze how specific theories we learned about influence stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination in the context of this scenario.
Writing Requirements (APA format)
Chapter 5 Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Heavily-armed police and National Guard forces are called in as racial tensions erupt into protests and riots in multiple American communities in response to a series of killings of unarmed African American men by the police.
A white man opens fire on worshipers in an historic African-American church in South Carolina, killing nine; investigators report that the shooter told them he wanted to start a race war. Supreme Court justices are split five to four in a ruling about the legality of practices that result in housing discrimination.
If you’re familiar with twentieth-century American history, this should sound like the volatile 1960s, as bat- tles over Civil Rights boiled over in many parts of the nation. But what we’ve just described occurred a full half century later, at the end of 2014 and in the first half of 2015. The sins of the past seemed to be repeating, demonstrating that although much has changed, much also remains the same.
The problems are by no means limited to black– white relations, or to the United States. Around the same time period, violence and hatred directed toward Jews throughout Europe and Australia were on the rise (see d Figure 5.1). Laws against pro-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) “propaganda” were passed in Russia. Anti-Muslim sentiment increased in many parts of the West, while anti-West sentiment con- tinued to flourish among large numbers of radical Mus- lims. The prime minister of India decried the continuing (though officially banned) practice of parents selectively aborting girls. As billionaire Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president of the United States, he denounced Mexican immigrants as criminals and rap- ists and leaped to the top of the polls (Ahmed, 2015; Fletcher, 2014; Gjelten, 2015; Luke, 2015; Mahr, 2015).
Faced with these headlines, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that progress, in some cases tremendous prog- ress, has been made. The United States had elected, and then re-elected, its first African American president. The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was now legal throughout the United States. Today more people than ever rush to defend the targets and denounce the perpetrators of prejudice and discrimination. The march toward progress is real, but its rhythm is frustratingly unsteady, at its best a “two-steps forward and one-step back” motion.
To better understand and improve our diverse world, to help the march toward progress acceler- ate in the right direction, it is critically important to understand the complexity and causes of stereo- types, prejudice, and discrimination. That is the pri- mary goal of this chapter. We begin by taking a close look at the nature of the problem of intergroup bias in contemporary life. Later in the chapter we address some of the key causes and important consequences of intergroup biases, and we close by discussing some of the most promising directions in efforts to reduce these problems.
The Nature of the Problem: Persistence and Change
In this section, we discuss some of the progress that has been made concerning stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, along with the persistence of more subtle forms of these biases. To provide a focus and to reflect the topics that have most dominated the research literature, we will concentrate in this sec- tion primarily on racism and sexism in particular—even though many of the points hold true across a wide variety of targets of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.
Defining Our Terms
Given the complexity of these issues, defining concepts such as prejudice or rac- ism is no simple matter. Debates persist about how best to define the terms—how broad or specific they should be, whether they should focus on individual or institutional levels, and so on. For example, one way to define racism is as preju- dice and discrimination based on a person’s racial background. It is important to realize, however, that racism exists at several different levels.
At the individual level, as this definition reflects, any of us can be racist to- ward anyone else. At the institutional and cultural levels, in contrast, some people are privileged while others are disadvantaged. Aspects of various institutions and the culture more generally may perpetuate this inequality, even if unintention- ally. For example, institutions may unwittingly perpetuate racism by tending to accept or hire individuals similar or connected to the people who already are in the institution, and popular culture may signal what kinds of people are most and least valued. Therefore, another way to define racism is as institutional and cultural practices that promote the domination of one racial group over another (Jones, 1997b). The incidents described at the beginning of this chapter sparked much discussion about systemic racism, which concerns these institutional and cultural levels of racial discrimination. Similarly, sexism may be defined as preju- dice and discrimination based on a person’s gender or as institutional and cultural practices that promote the domination of one gender (typically men) over another (typically women).
For the purposes of this chapter, we define stereotypes as beliefs or asso- ciations that link whole groups of people with certain traits or characteristics. Prejudice consists of negative feelings about others because of their connec- tion to a social group. Whereas stereotypes concern associations or beliefs and prejudice concerns feelings, discrimination concerns behaviors—specifically, negative behaviors directed against persons because of their membership in a particular group. Stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination can operate some- what independently, but they often influence and reinforce each other.
racism: Current Forms and Challenges
A close examination of legislation, opinion polls, sociological data, and social psy- chological research indicates that racial prejudice and discrimination have been decreasing in the United States and in many other countries over the last 70 years, although elements of it may once again be on the rise, particularly in Western Europe. In a classic study of ethnic stereotypes published in 1933, Daniel Katz and Kenneth Braly found that white college students viewed the average white American as smart, industrious, and ambitious, and they saw the average African American as superstitious, ignorant, lazy, and happy-go-lucky. In multiple follow- up surveys with demographically similar samples of white students conducted from 1951 through 2001, these negative images of blacks largely faded and were replaced by more favorable images (Dovidio et al., 1996; Madon et al., 2001). For example, 75% of white participants chose “lazy” as a trait to describe black Americans in 1933, whereas only 5% did so 60 years later. Similarly, public opin- ion polls have indicated that racial prejudice in the United States has dropped sharply since World War II. d Figure 5.2 depicts one dramatic example of this trend, concerning attitudes toward inter-racial marriage (Newport, 2015).
The election of Barack Obama as the first African American president of the United States in 2008 was a significant sign of racial progress, as was his re- election in 2012. As Obama pointed out when he was inaugurated, his own father would not have been served in many restaurants in the nation’s capital 60 years before, and now that father’s son was being sworn in to the highest office in the land. That amount of progress in a person’s lifetime is staggering. However, when those of us who study stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination saw story after story in the popular media at the time of Obama’s election heralding the dawn of a “postracial America,” we knew how naive and wrong such notions were.
While serving as president, for example, Obama—along his wife, Michelle— was the target with shocking regularity of hateful racial epithets and blatant stereotypes hurled by politicians, police officials, journalists, political cartoonists, celebrities, and ordinary citizens. During this time the spate of killings of unarmed African American men by police in several cities led to investigations that revealed persistent systemic racial discrimination. Data from archival analyses, surveys, and even experiments in which other variables are held constant continue to show how African American and Hispanic individuals suffer in comparison to white Americans in housing, employment, salaries, incarceration rates, and a host of other important quality-of-life variables (Gabrielson et al., 2014; Horwitz, 2015; Pager & Shepherd, 2008; Reskin, 2012).
In sum, then, there are legitimate reasons both to celebrate racial progress and to acknowledge that racism remains a fact of life and is by no means limited merely to the actions of some fringe individuals or groups. And as we will see in the following section, it exists in ways that escape the recognition of most people.
Modern, Aversive, and implicit racism Consider two stories from the world of sports:
1. As the first half ended during a high school basketball game near Pittsburgh, fans of a predominately white high school ran onto the court in full body banana suits, sur- rounded the players from the predominately African American opposing team, and “allegedly began making monkey noises and hurling racial epithets” at the players (C. Smith, 2012). A few months later in Poland and Croatia, black members of the Dutch and Italian national soccer teams were the targets of racial abuse—including being on the receiving end of monkey chants and a flung banana—during the Euro 2012 championships. Indeed, the 2012 tournament, and the World Cup tournament in 2014 were marred by a variety of incidents of racist taunting by players and fans from mul- tiple European and South American nations (Barnes, 2014; Brown, 2012; Cue, 2012).
2. Christopher Parsons and others (2009) analyzed every pitch from four Major League Baseball seasons—more than 3.5 million pitches in all—and found a fascinating set of results. Umpires were more likely to call strikes for pitchers who were of the same race/ethnicity as they were. Even more interesting is the fact that this bias emerged only under three conditions: (1) if the game was played in the subset of ballparks that did not have a computerized monitoring system the league was using to review umpires’ performance in calling balls and strikes; (2) if the number of people attending the game was relatively low; and (3) if the call would not be the final ball or strike for the player at bat. In other words, the racial/ethnic bias was evident only under the conditions when there would be the least accountability or public outcry.
3. The first of these examples—concerning racist taunting—illustrates what some call old-fashioned racism. It is blatant, explicit, and unmistakable. The second— concerning the bias in umpiring—is what some call modern racism, a subtle form of prejudice that tends to surface when it is safe, socially acceptable, or easy to rationalize. Modern racism is far more subtle and most likely to be present under the cloud of ambiguity. Like germs lurking beneath a seemingly clean countertop, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination in contemporary life live under the sur- face to a much, much greater extent than most people realize. And like germs, their existence can have a profound effect on us, despite how hidden they may be.
4. According to theories of modern racism, many people are racially ambivalent. They want to see themselves as fair, but they still harbor feelings of anxiety and discomfort about other racial groups (Hass et al., 1992). There are several specific theories of modern racism, but they all emphasize contradictions and tensions that lead to subtle, often unconscious forms of prejudice and discrimination (Gawronski et al., 2012; Levy et al., 2013; Nier & Gaertner, 2012). For example, Samuel Gaertner and John Dovidio (1986; Hodson et al., 2010) proposed the related concept of aversive racism, which concerns the ambivalence between individuals’ sincerely fair-minded attitudes and beliefs, on the one hand, and their largely unconscious and unrecognized prejudicial feelings and beliefs, on the other hand. In addition, some scholars today use the term microaggression to characterize the everyday, typically subtle but hurtful forms of discrimination that are experienced quite frequently by members of targeted groups (Forrest-Bank et al., 2015).
Measuring implicit racism The modern forms of racism sometime operate consciously but more frequently operate outside people’s conscious awareness. Scholars call racism that operates unconsciously and unintentionally implicit racism. This raises a question: How can we measure how implicitly biased someone is? Because of its implicit nature, it can’t be assessed by simply asking people to answer some questions about their attitudes. Rather, much more subtle, indirect measures typically are used. By far the most well known of these measures is the Implicit Association Test (IAT), first developed and tested by Anthony Greenwald and others (1998). The IAT measures the extent to which two concepts are associated. It measures implicit racism toward African Americans, for instance, by comparing how quickly participants associate African American cues (such as a black face) with negative or positive concepts compared to how quickly they associate European American cues with these same concepts. If someone is consistently slower identifying something good after seeing a black face than a white face, for example, this would indicate a degree of implicit racism.
interracial interactions The divides between racial and ethnic groups tend to be more vast and may promote stronger feelings of hostility, fear, and distrust than the divides based on other social categories, such as those based on gender, appearance, and age. This can make interracial interaction particularly challenging and fraught with emotion and tension. When engaging in interracial interactions, whites may be concerned about a number of things, including not wanting to be, or to appear to be, racist. They may therefore try to regulate their behaviors, be on the lookout for signs of distrust or dislike from their interaction partners, and so on. Because of these concerns, what should ideally be a smooth-flowing normal interaction can become awkward and even exhausting. This, in turn, can affect their partner’s perceptions of them, possibly leading to the ironic outcome of well-intentioned individuals
appearing to be racist precisely because they were trying not to be. Because of these concerns, engaging in interracial interactions can be so stressful as to leave the individuals cognitively exhausted, less able immediately after the interaction to complete mental tasks (Shelton & Richeson, 2015).
Sexism: Ambivalence, Objectification, and Double Standards
As with racism, old-fashioned blatant displays of sexism are less socially accepted than in years past, although they continue to exist at a frequency and with an intensity that would surprise many. As with racism, researchers have been documenting and studying modern and implicit forms of sexism that tend to escape the notice of most people but that can exert powerful discriminatory effects (Girvan et al., 2015; Swim & Hyers, 2009).
There are some ways that sexism is different, however. Gender stereotypes are distinct from virtually all other stereotypes in that they often are prescriptive rather than merely descriptive. In other words, they indicate what many people in a given culture believe men and women should be like, not merely what people think they actually are like. Few people, for example, think that gays should be artistic and sensitive or that old people should be forgetful and conservative, but many think that women should be nurturing and that men should be unemotional. Therefore, women who exhibit traits that are valued in society but that defy gender stereo- types, such as by being ambitious or assertive, often are viewed in especially harsh terms, contributing to the double standards that are a hallmark of sexism (Brescoll et al., 2010; Prentice & Carranza, 2002; Rudman et al., 2012; Rudman, Fetterolf, & Sanchez, 2013).
Another way that sexism is unique concerns the degree to which the ingroup and outgroup members interact. Men and women are intimately familiar with each other. Girls and boys often grow up together, women and men often live together. In contrast to the effects of contact in reducing many other intergroup biases, however, all this contact between women and men often does little to re- duce sexist beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.
Ambivalent Sexism It may surprise you to learn that, overall, stereotypes of women tend to be more positive than those of men (Eagly et al., 1994). However, the positive traits associated with women are less valued in important domains such as the business world than the positive traits associated with men.
These contradictions are reflected in Peter Glick and Susan Fiske’s (2001, 2012) concept of ambivalent sexism. Ambivalent sexism consists of two elements: hostile sexism, characterized by negative, resentful feelings about women’s abili- ties, value, and challenge to men’s power (e.g., “Women seek special favors under the guise of equality”), and benevolent sexism, characterized by affectionate, chiv- alrous feelings founded on the potentially patronizing belief that women need and deserve protection (e.g., “Women should be cherished and protected by men”). Benevolent sexism, on the surface, does not strike many women or men as ter- ribly troubling, but the two forms of sexism are positively correlated. Benevolent sexism is associated in particular with negative reactions toward women who defy traditional gender roles and stereotypes.
Both types of sexism are associated with supporting gender inequality in a variety of ways, and both predict many kinds of discriminatory behaviors and negative consequences (Durán et al., 2011; Masser et al., 2010; Rudman & Fetterolf, 2014). For example, Allison Skinner and others (2015) found that, depending on the context, hostile and benevolent sexism each predicted more negative judgments of the driver in an accident if the driver was said to be a woman rather than a man. Kristen Salomon and colleagues (2015) found that being the target of either type of sexism triggered negative cardiovascular responses in the women in their study.
Glick, Fiske, and others (2000) conducted an ambitious study of 15,000 men and women in 19 nations across 6 continents and found that ambivalent sexism was prevalent around the world. Among their most intriguing findings was that people from countries with the greatest degree of economic and political inequal- ity between the sexes tended to exhibit the most hostile and benevolent sexism.
Objectification Women are all too often treated in objectifying ways. That is, they are viewed or treated more as mere bodies or objects and less as fully func- tioning human beings. The advertising industry specifically, and the popular media more generally, are filled with imagery of women represented as sexual objects or just parts of a body (Kilbourne, 2003). For example, Julie Stankiewicz and Fran- cine Rosselli (2008) examined almost 2,000 advertisements depicting women from 58 popular magazines in the United States and found that half of them featured women as sex objects. Women also experience being treated and seen as objects in numerous interactions in their real lives. In one study involving in-depth interviews with 600 women in and around Paris, France, an astonishing 100% reporting having been sexually harassed while using public transportation (Palet, 2015)!
Although men are objectified in the media as well (and this is a growing trend), and are sometimes objectified in real interactions, it is still the case that women experience this much more frequently, and a good deal of research documents a variety of negative effects of this objectification on women, including on their mental and physical health, their academic performance, and their social interactions (Calogero et al., 2011; Fredrickson et al., 1998; Saguy et al., 2010; Tiggemann & Williams, 2012).
Sex Discrimination: Double Standards and Perva- sive Stereotypes Many years ago, Philip Goldberg (1968) asked students at a small women’s college to evaluate the con- tent and writing style of some articles. When the material was supposedly written by John McKay rather than Joan McKay it received higher ratings, a result that led Goldberg to wonder if even women were prejudiced against women. Certain other studies showed that people often devalue the performance of women who take on tasks usually reserved for men (Lott, 1985) and attribute women’s achievements to luck rather than ability (Deaux & Emswiller, 1974; Nieva & Gutek, 1981). These studies generated a lot of attention, but it now appears that this kind of devaluation of women is not commonly found in similar studies. More than 100 studies modeled after Gold- berg’s indicate that people are not generally biased by gender in the evaluation of performance (Swim & Sanna, 1996; Top, 1991). More recently, two different sets of studies involved having professors from science-related fields evaluate the ma- terials of candidates for research or faculty positions in their fields, and these studies found completely contradictory re- sults: One found a bias in favor candidates if they were said to be male (Moss-Racusin et al., 2012), and the other found a bias in favor candidates if they were said to be female (Williams & Ceci, 2015). The point here is that in studies involving the evaluation of materials that are identical except for the gender of the person who supposedly produced the materials, the findings have been inconsistent.
What is quite clear, however, is that sex discrimination continues to exist in numerous other ways and instances. As with forms of modern and implicit rac- ism, subtle but impactful examples of sexism abound. For example, Juan Madera and others (2015) looked at real letters of recommendation that professors wrote for candidates for academic jobs. A quick look at these letters probably would not reveal any obvious differences based on the gender of the candidates. A more thorough analysis, however, indicated that both male and female professors tended to include more pieces of information raising slight doubts (e.g., “she has a somewhat challenging personality,” “she might make a good colleague”) for female than for male candidates. Moreover, these seemingly minor doubts made a significant difference in the evaluations of people reading these letters.
Sexism today is by no means limited to subtle biases. In many parts of the world blatant sexism not only is still quite evident, but it is the law of the land. A law in Morocco that enables rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victim came under fire when a 16-year-old girl committed suicide after a court ordered her to marry the man who raped her (Hirsch, 2012). Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenage girl, was shot in the head in 2012 by the Taliban when she defied their bans against girls attending school. She survived the attack, became an inspiring activist dedicated to female education, and in October 2014 became the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
After surviving being shot in the head by the Taliban for defying their ban against girls attending school in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai has worked tirelessly in her quest to help girls around the world receive education. She became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Price in 2014.
Beyond racism and Sexism: Age, Weight, Sexuality, and Other Targets
We have focused in this section on racism and sexism not only because of their historic significance but also because they have been dominant in social psycho- logical research. It is important to note that other forms of bias and discrimina- tion are, of course, quite important and are the subject of contemporary social psychological research. In fact, social psychologists today are studying a wider variety of types of stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination than ever. It is prob- ably no coincidence, for example, that as our population ages and people tend to live longer, more researchers are studying ageism—prejudice and discrimina- tion targeting the elderly (Nelson, 2011; North & Fiske, 2015). Other forms of discrimination that are getting recent attention include those targeting people’s physical disabilities or disfigurements, mental health, political ideology, economic class, being unmarried, or religion (or the lack of religious beliefs) (DePaulo, 2011; Gervais, 2013; Madera & Hebl, 2013; West et al., 2014).
Prejudice and discrimination based on sexuality have gone through some dramatic changes very recently. When the former Olympic champion Bruce Jenner revealed to the public in 2015 that he was transitioning to a female identity, with the name Caitlyn, the support that Cait- lyn received from the general public was enormous (al- though certainly not universal) and probably would have been unthinkable just a few years before. Americans’ attitudes toward same-sex marriage also have shifted dramatically in just a few years (see d Figure 5.7).
We are all targets of other people’s stereotypes and prejudices. These may be based on how we look, how we talk, how we dress, where we come from, and so on. None of us is immune from having our work evaluated in a biased way, our motives questioned, or our attempts at making new friends rejected because of stereotypes and prejudices. But for the targets of some stereotypes and prejudices, these concerns are relentless and profound. For them, there seem to be few safe havens. Social psychologists often refer to these targets as stigmatized—individuals who are targets of negative stereotypes, perceived as deviant, and devalued in society because they are members of a particular social group or because they have a particular characteristic (Major & Crocker, 1993). What are some of the effects of being stigmatized by stereotypes and prejudice?
Stereotype Threat: A Threat in the Air
One of the more tragic effects of stereotyping in contemporary life is its effects on the intellectual performance and identity of its targets. An enormous wave of re- search on this issue was generated when social psychologist Claude Steele began writing about this problem in the 1990s. Steele proposed that in situations where a negative stereotype can apply to certain groups, members of these groups can fear being seen “through the lens of diminishing stereotypes and low expecta- tions” (1999, p. 44). Steele (1997) called this predicament stereotype threat, for it hangs like “a threat in the air” when the individual is in the stereotype-relevant situation. The predicament can be particularly threatening for individuals whose identity and self-esteem are invested in domains where the stereotype is relevant. Steele argued that stereotype threat plays a crucial role in influencing the intel- lectual performance and identity of stereotyped group members. Steele and his colleagues (2002) later broadened the scope of their analysis to include social identity threats more generally. These threats are not necessarily tied to specific stereotypes but instead reflect a more general devaluing of a person’s social group.
The Prevalence and Diversity of Threats Since these original studies, re- search inspired by the theory of stereotype threat grew at a stunningly fast pace. The evidence for underperformance due to stereotype threat is quite strong and broad (Inzlicht & Schmader, 2012; Schmader et al., 2015). It has been found both in the lab- oratory and in real-world settings, including schools and businesses. The examples of these threats run far and wide. For instance, many white athletes feel stereotype threat whenever they step onto a court or playing field where they constitute the minority. Will the white athlete feel the added weight of this threat while struggling against the other athletes in a game? To address this question, Jeff Stone and others (1999) had black and white students play miniature golf. When the experimenters characterized the game as diagnostic of “natural athletic ability,” the white students did worse. But when they characterized it as diagnostic of “sports intelligence,” the black students did worse.
Causes of Stereotype Threat effects Stereotype threat exerts its effects in multiple ways (Forbes & Leitner, 2014; Rydell et al., 2014; Schmader et al., 2015). Stereotype threat has been shown to do each of the following to people: trigger physiological arousal and stress; drain cognitive resources; cause a loss of focus to the task at hand because of attempts to suppress thoughts about the relevant stereotype; impair working memory; activate negative thoughts, worry, feelings of dejection, and concerns about trying to avoid failure rather than trying to achieve success; elicit neural activity biased toward negative, stereotype-confirming feedback. Think about trying to do your best on a difficult test that is important to you while all of these things are happening to you—you’d get some sense of how stereotype threat can undermine people’s performance and ambitions.
Even though stereotype threat effects are widespread, the growing body of research on this subject also gives us reason to hope. Social psychologists have been uncovering ways that people can be better protected against these threats. We will focus on these promising ways in the final section of this chapter.
Causes of the Problem: Intergroup, Motivational, Cognitive,
and Cultural Factors
“In the 2010 census of the popu- lation of the United States, more than 21.7 million Americans did not believe the government’s traditional categories of race fit them.”
social categorization The classification of persons into groups on the basis of common attributes.
we get to the solutions to stereotype threat and the other problems we have been discussing thus far in this chapter, we turn next to the social psychological causes at the root of these problems.
One of the reasons that stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination persist is because they are caused by multiple factors. There are many sources fueling these problems, and they operate both independently and in tandem. Some stem from the ways that humans cognitively process and remember information. Others can be traced to motivations and goals that drive us to see or react to our social worlds in particular ways. Still others concern how groups of people are represented or valued in one’s culture. In this section we turn to look at some of the most impor- tant of these causes.
Social Categories and intergroup Conflict
At the root of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination is the fact that we divide our social world into groups. As perceivers, we routinely sort each other into groups on the basis of gender, race, age, and other common attributes in a process called social categorization. In some ways, social categorization is natural and adaptive. It allows us to form impressions quickly and use experience to guide new interactions. With so many things to pay attention to in our social worlds, we can save time and effort by using people’s group memberships to make inferences about them. The time and energy saved through social categorization does come at a cost, however. Categorizing people leads us to overestimate the differences between groups and to underestimate the differences within groups (Krueger & DiDonato, 2008; Wyer et al., 2002).
Ingroups Versus Outgroups Although categorizing humans is much like cat- egorizing objects, there is a key difference. When it comes to social categorization, perceivers themselves are members or nonmembers of the categories they use. Groups that we identify with—our country, religion, political party, even our hometown sports team—are called ingroups, whereas groups other than our own are called outgroups. We see people in fundamentally different ways if we consider them to be part of our ingroup or as part of an outgroup.
One consequence is that we exaggerate the differences between our ingroup and other outgroups, and this exaggeration of differences helps to form and reinforce stereotypes. Another consequence is a phenomenon known as the outgroup homogeneity effect, whereby perceivers assume that there is a greater similarity among members of outgroups than among members of one’s own group. In other words, there may be many and subtle differences among “us,” but “they” are all alike (Linville & Jones, 1980). It is easy to think of real-life examples. People from China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan see them- selves as quite distinct from one another, of course, but to many Westerners they are seen simply as Asian. E
Dehumanizing Outgroups Perceivers may not only process outgroup faces more superficially but also sometimes process them more like objects and lower- order animals than like fellow humans. Dehumanization has played a role in atrocities throughout history, such as in the Nazi propaganda that characterized the Jews in Germany as disease-spreading rats and blacks as half-apes. The con- tinued presence of some of this kind of imagery in contemporary life is chilling, as in the examples discussed in the introduction of this chapter of black athletes in numerous countries being taunted with monkey chants. When former rock star Ted Nugent called Barack Obama “a chimpanzee” and “sub-human mon- grel” in a 2014 interview (Haraldsson, 2014), this marked only one of countless examples of white Americans using such imagery to describe Obama.
Fundamental Motives Between groups The roots of dividing into ingroups and outgroups run quite deep in our evolutionary history, as early humans’ sur- vival depended on forming relatively small groups of similar others. A fundamental motive to protect one’s ingroup and be suspicious of outgroups is therefore likely to have evolved. Consistent with this idea are the results of experiments that demonstrate that when people’s basic motivations of self-protection are activated—such as in response to a threatening situation, economic scarcity, a scary movie, concerns about the flu, or even being in a completely dark room— people are more prone to exhibit prejudice toward outgroups or to be especially hesitant to see possible outgroup members as part of one’s ingroup (Makhanova et al., 2015; Maner et al., 2012; Schaller & Neuberg, 2012).
Motives Concerning intergroup Dominance and Status Some people are especially motivated to preserve inequities between groups of people in soci- ety. For example, people with a social dominance orientation have a desire to see their ingroups as dominant over other groups and tend to support cultural values that contribute to the oppression of other groups. Individuals with this orientation tend to endorse sentiments such as “If certain groups stayed in their place, we would have fewer problems” and to disagree with statements such as “Group equality should be our ideal.” Research in numerous coun- tries throughout the world has found that ingroup identification and outgroup derogation and dehumanization can be especially strong among people with a social dominance orientation (Kteily et al., 2015; Levin et al., 2013; Prati et al., 2015; Pratto et al., 2013).
Social dominance orientations promote self-interest. But some ideologies support a social structure that may actually oppose one’s self-interest, depending on the status of one’s groups. John Jost and his colleagues (Jost et al., 2015; van der Toorn et al., 2015) have focused on what they call system justification theory, which proposes that people are motivated (at least in part) to defend and justify the existing social, political, and economic conditions. System-justifying beliefs protect the status quo. Groups with power, of course, may promote the status quo to preserve their own advantaged position. But although some disadvantaged groups might be able to improve their circumstances if they were to challenge an economic or political system, members of disadvantaged groups with a system justification orientation think that the system is fair and just, and they may admire and even show outgroup favoritism to outgroups that thrive in this system.
Stereotype Content Model According to the stereotype content model (Kervyn et al., 2015; North & Fiske, 2014), many group stereotypes vary along two dimensions: warmth and competence. Groups may be considered high on both dimensions, low on both, or high on one dimension but low on the other. For example, the elderly may be stereotyped as high on warmth but low on competence.
The stereotype content model proposes that stereotypes about the com- petence of a group are influenced by the relative status of that group in society—higher relative status is associated with higher competence. Stereo- types about the warmth of a group are influenced by perceived competition with the group—greater perceived competition is associated with lower warmth. For example, groups that are of low status but that remain compliant and do not try to upset the status quo are likely to be stereotyped as low in competence but high in warmth. On the other hand, a wave of immigrants who enter a coun- try with low status but are seen as competing for jobs and resources may be perceived as low in both competence and warmth. For groups that are seen as high on one dimension but low on the other, there may be a perceived trade-off between competence and warmth. A woman climbing up the corporate lad- der by demonstrating strong competence, for example, may be seen as much less warm. If she tries to demonstrate warmth, however, she may be seen as less competent. but that didn’t help either. What did eventually work was the introduction of superordinate goals, mutual goals that could be achieved only through coop- eration between the groups. For example, the experimenters arranged for the camp truck to break down, and both groups were needed to pull it up a steep hill. This strategy worked like a charm. By the end of camp, the two groups were so friendly that they insisted on traveling home on the same bus. In just three weeks, the Rattlers and Eagles experienced the kinds of changes that often take generations to unfold: They formed close-knit groups, went to war, and made peace. ……
Realistic Conflict Theory The view that direct competition for valuable but limited resources breeds hostility between groups is called realistic conflict theory (Levine & Campbell, 1972). As a simple matter of economics, one group may fare better in the struggle for land, jobs, or power than another group. The losing group becomes frustrated and resentful, the winning group feels threatened and protective—and, before long, conflict heats to a rapid boil. It is likely that a good deal of prejudice in the world is driven by the realities of competition (Duckitt & Mphuthing, 1998; Filindra & Pearson-Merkowitz, 2013; Stephan et al., 2005; Zárate et al., 2004). For example, Marcel Coenders and others (2008) found that support for discrimination against ethnic minority groups tended to increase in the Netherlands when the unemployment level had recently risen. David Butz and Kuma Yogeeswaran (2011) found that students in the United States indicated more prejudice against Asian Americans if they had just read information about serious economic problems and growing competition for scarce resources.
But there is much more to prejudice than real competition. “Realistic” com- petition for resources may in fact be imagined—a perception in the mind of an individual who is not engaged in any real conflict. In addition, people may become resentful of other groups not because of their conviction that their own security or resources are threatened by these groups but because of their sense of relative deprivation, the belief that they fare poorly compared with others. What matters to the proverbial Smiths is not the size of their house per se but whether it is larger than the Jones’s house next door (Moscatelli et al., 2014; H. J. Smith & Pettigrew, 2015).
Social identity Theory
People all over the world believe that their own nation, culture, language, and religion are better and more deserving than others. Part of the rea- son for that is even more basic than real or perceived competition for finite resources. Rather, it stems from something more subtle and psychological.
Culture and Social identity
Individuals’ social identities are clearly important to people across cultures. Collectivists are more likely than individualists to value their connectedness and interdependence with the people and groups around them, and their personal identities are tied closely with their social identities. Collectivists do show some biases favoring their ingroups—indeed, being oriented strongly toward one’s in- group can be highly valued in their cultures—and may draw sharper distinctions
Culture and Socialization
The list of familiar stereotypes is quite long. Athletes are dumb, math majors are geeks, Americans are loud, Italians are emotional, Californians are laid back, white men can’t jump, car salesmen can’t be trusted. And on and on it goes. Dividing people into social categories, including ingroups and outgroups, cer- tainly is a key factor in the formation of stereotypes and prejudices. But with so many well-known stereotypes and prejudices, many of which are shared around the world, it is clear that we are somehow taught these stereotypes from our culture. We turn now to examine those processes.
Socialization refers to the processes by which people learn the norms, rules, and information of a culture or group. We learn a tremendous amount of informa- tion (often without even realizing it) by absorbing what we see around us in our culture, groups, and families. These lessons include what various stereotypes are, how valued or devalued various groups are, and which prejudices are acceptable to have. …….
Gender Stereotypes: Blue for Boys, Pink for girls Our traditional story be- gins with what are often the first words uttered when a baby is born: “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” In many hospitals, the newborn boy is immediately given a blue hat and the newborn girl a pink hat. The infant receives a gender-appropriate name and is showered with gender-appropriate gifts. Over the next few years, the typical boy is sup- plied with toy trucks, baseballs, pretend tools, toy guns, and chemistry sets; the typi- cal girl is furnished with dolls, stuffed animals, pretend makeup kits, kitchen and tea sets, and dress-up clothes. As they enter school, many expect the boy to earn money by mowing lawns and to enjoy violent superhero movies, while they expect the girl to earn money by babysitting and to enjoy sweet stories about friendship or love.
Social role Theory
to look at the larger culture around them and see who occupies what roles in society as well as how these roles are valued. According to Alice Eagly’s (Eagly & Wood, 2012; Koenig & Eagly, 2014) social role theory, although the perception of sex differences may be based on some real differences, it is magnified by the unequal social roles men and women occupy.
Media effects More than ever, children, adolescents, and adults seem to be im- mersed in popular culture transmitted via the mass media. Watching TV shows on our phones or iPads while on the stationary bike at the gym, checking out the latest viral videos or celebrity Instagram posts while taking a break at work or the coffee shop, seeing advertisements popping up on our computer screens like weeds, glanc- ing at the tabloid cover shots of the latest starlet hounded by relentless paparazzi— there often seems no escape. Through the ever-present media, we are fed a steady diet of images of people. These images have the potential to perpetuate stereotypes and discrimination.
How Stereotypes Distort Perceptions and resist Change
Once stereotypes and prejudices are in place due to the factors we’ve been discussing, why are they often so resistant to change? Although some stereo- types may be accurate, some certainly are false, and many are at least over- simplifications (Jussim, 2012; Madon et al., 1998; McCrae et al., 2013; Scherer et al., 2015). Why, then, do inaccurate stereotypes persist despite evidence that should discredit them? In this section we turn to some of the mechanisms that help perpetuate stereotypes.
Confirmation Biases and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies Imagine learning that a mother yelled at a 16-year-old girl, a lawyer behaved aggressively, and a Boy Scout grabbed the arm of an elderly woman crossing the street. Now imagine that a construction worker yelled at a 16-year-old girl, a homeless man behaved aggressively, and an ex-con grabbed the arm of an elderly woman crossing the street. Do very different images of these actions come to mind? This is a fundamental effect of stereotyping: Stereotypes of groups influence people’s perceptions and interpretations of the behaviors of group members. This is especially likely when a target of a stereotype behaves in an ambiguous way; perceivers reduce the ambiguity by interpreting the behavior as consistent with the stereotype (Dunning & Sherman, 1997; Kunda et al., 1997).
Stereotypes can be reinforced also through the illusory correlation, a tendency for people to overestimate the link between variables that are only slightly or not at all correlated (Hamilton & Rose, 1980; Kutzner & Fiedler, 2015; Sherman et al., 2009; Van Rooy et al., 2013). One kind of illusory correlation occurs when people overestimate the association between variables that are relatively rare. For example, if people read about a variety of criminal acts, most of which are com- mitted by members of a majority group and some of which are committed by members of a particular minority group, they may overestimate the association between minority group status (a relatively rare group) and criminal behavior (a relatively rare behavior). This tendency can create or perpetuate negative stereo- types. Illusory correlations may also be produced through people’s tendency to overestimate the association between variables they already expect to go together. For example, if perceivers who hold stereotypes about women being poor drivers witness 100 men and 100 women driving, and 10% of each group get into an accident, they may overestimate the number of women and underestimate the number of men who had accidents. In other words, they see an association between gender and accidents that is not supported by the data.
Automatic Stereotype Activation
Part of the power of stereotypes is they can bias our perceptions and responses even if we don’t personally agree with them. In other words, we don’t have to believe a stereotype for it to trigger illusory correlations and self-fulfilling prophecies or to influence how we think, feel, and behave toward group members. Some- times just being aware of stereotypes in one’s culture is enough to cause these effects. Moreover, stereotypes can be activated without our awareness.
In a very influential line of research, Patricia Devine (1989) distinguished be- tween automatic and controlled processes in stereotyping. She argued that people have become highly aware of the content of many stereotypes through socialization from their culture. Because of this high awareness people may automatically activate stereotypes whenever they are exposed to members of groups for which popular stereotypes exist. Thus, just as after hearing bacon and many of us are automatically primed to think eggs, when we think of a stereotyped group we are also primed to think of concepts relevant to the stereotype.
To demonstrate this point Devine exposed white participants in one study to subliminal presentations on a computer monitor. Subliminally presented information is presented so quickly that perceivers do not even realize that they have been exposed to it. In Devine’s study these presentations consisted of words relevant to stereotypes about black people, such as Africa, ghetto, welfare, and basket- ball.
One of the many enduring ideas in Gordon Allport’s (1954) classic book, The Nature of Prejudice, was the contact hypothesis, which states that under certain conditions, direct contact between members of rival groups will reduce intergroup prejudice. Around the time of the publication of this book, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the historic 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racially separate schools were inherently unequal and violated the U.S. Constitution. In part, the decision was informed by empirical evidence supplied by 32 eminent social scientists on the harmful effects of segregation on both race relations and the self-esteem and academic achievement of black students (Allport et al., 1953). The Supreme Court’s decision propelled the nation into a large-scale social experiment. What would be the effect?
intergroup Friendships and extended Contact
Developing friendships across groups is one of the best ways to experience many of the optimal conditions for contact that are listed in Table 5.3. Friendships typi- cally involve equal status, meaningful one-on-one interactions that extend across time and settings, and cooperation toward shared goals. It therefore makes sense that one of the most encouraging lines of research on improving intergroup rela- tions has focused on cross-group friendships. A recent meta-analysis by Kristin Davies and others (2011) on 135 studies supports the idea that cross-group friend- ships are associated with more positive attitudes and behaviors toward outgroup members.
The Jigsaw Classroom
As the third condition in Table 5.3 indicates, cooperation and shared goals are ideal for intergroup contact to be successful. Yet the typical classroom is filled with competition—exactly the wrong ingredient. Picture the scene. The teacher stands in front of the class and asks a question. Many children wave their hands, each straining to catch the teacher’s eye. Then, as soon as one student is called on, the others groan in frustration. In the competition for the teacher’s approval, they are losers—hardly a scenario suited to positive intergroup contact. To combat this problem in the classroom, Elliot Aronson and his colleagues (1978) developed a cooperative learning method called the jigsaw classroom. In newly desegregated public schools in Texas and California, they assigned fifth graders to small racially and academically mixed groups. The material to be learned within each group was divided into subtopics, much the way a jigsaw puzzle is broken into pieces. Each student was responsible for learning one piece of the puzzle, after which all members took turns teaching their material to one another. In this system, everyone—regardless of race, ability, or self-confidence—needs everyone else if the group as a whole is to succeed.
One important consequence of the jigsaw classroom technique is that individuals became more likely to classify outgroup members as part of their own ingroup. Instead of seeing racial or ethnic “others” within the classroom, the students now see fellow classmates. Students feel that they are all in the same boat together. More generally, intergroup contact that emphasizes shared goals and fates can effectively reduce prejudice and discrimination—specifically by changing how group members categorize each other (Bettencourt et al., 2007; Van Bavel & Cunningham, 2009).
Trust, Belonging, and reducing Stereotype Threat
Claude Steele’s theory of stereotype threat discussed earlier in the chapter re- ceived a great deal of attention because it not only helped explain causes underly- ing some profound social problems—such as the underperformance or reduced interests of large groups of people in various academic and career pursuits—but also offered encouragement rather than pessimism. It illustrated that making even small changes in the situational factors that give rise to stereotype threat can reduce the tremendous weight of negative stereotypes, allowing the targets of stereotypes to perform to their potential.
A key point in this chapter is that people often ste- reotype and show prejudice toward others even when they would rather not, sometimes by merely being aware of the stereotype. Can we learn to con- trol and rise above these impulses?
One of the challenges is that trying to suppress stereotyping or to control prejudiced actions can take mental effort, and people often don’t have the time, energy, or awareness to dedicate to this effort (Ito et al., 2015). E
Changing Cognitions, Cultures, and Motivations We have just discussed some of the challenges involved in trying not to think about stereotypes or act in a prejudiced way. There are several ways of thinking that can be more productive. Social– cognitive factors that research has shown can re- duce stereotyping and prejudice include: Being exposed to and thinking about examples of group members that are inconsistent with the ste- reotype (Columb & Plant, 2011). Learning about the variability that exists among the people in a group (Brauer & Er-rafiy, 2011; Brauer et al., 2012). Being induced to take the perspective of a person from a stereotyped group (Maister et al., 2015; Peck et al., 2013; Todd et al., 2012).