Stereotypes & Prejudice

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The Psychology of Stereotyping & Prejudice

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EQ 10-1. How do people form, change, or react to attitudes ? Attitude : An enduring mental representation of a person, place, or thing that evokes an emotional response and related behavior.


Targets: Define stereotypes, prejudice, & discrimination. Explain the social and cognitive sources of stereotypes and prejudice.


Stereotypes Oversimplified generalizations of people who belong to a particular social group. Can be negative or positive


Most often applied to: Gender Race Ethnicity Age Occupation Physical appearance Place of residence Membership in a group or organization Can lead to prejudice Stereotypes


Prejudice Negative feelings toward people who belong to a particular social group. A negative evaluation of the group Can lead to discrimination


Ethnocentrism A special kind of prejudice The belief that one’s culture is superior to others. Seeing one’s culture as the norm , judging other cultures that are “different”


Discrimination Negative actions toward people who belong to a particular social group.

How Prejudiced are People?:

How Prejudiced are People? Over time, people have become gradually more accepting of interracial marriage.

How Prejudiced are People?:

How Prejudiced are People? Americans today express much less racial and gender prejudice, but prejudices still exist.

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Prejudice works at the conscious and [more at] the unconscious level. Therefore, prejudice is more like a knee-jerk response than a conscious decision.


Race 9 out of 10 white respondents were slow when responding to words like “peace” or “paradise” when they saw a black individual’s photo compared to a white individual’s photo (Hugenberg & Bodenhausen, 2003).

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The Roots of Stereotypes and Prejudice

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Social Roots

Social (Observational) Learning:

Social (Observational) Learning Stereotypes & prejudice are learned through modeling. Kids who live in environments with prejudicial parents, peers, etc. are more likely to have prejudices as well.

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Prejudice can be learned

Social Inequality:

Social Inequality Prejudice develops when people have money, power, and prestige, and others do not. Social inequality increases prejudice. Scarcity of resources = fear

Social Divisions (In-group vs. Out-groups):

Social Divisions (In-group vs. Out-groups) In-group: People with whom one shares a common identity. Out-group: Those perceived as different from one’s in-group. In-group Bias: The tendency to favor one’s own group.


Scapegoating Prejudice provides an outlet for anger [emotion] by providing someone to blame . After 9/11 many people lashed out against innocent Arab-Americans. Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis: People who are frustrated in their goals may turn their anger away from the proper target toward another, less powerful target. (Scapegoat)



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Cognitive Roots We have a tendency to categorize & simplify

Social Categorization:

Social Categorization Our tendency to organize all things into categories: “Good” and “Bad” “Familiar” and “Foreign” “Us” and “Them”

Gestalt Law of Similarity:

Gestalt Law of Similarity The tendency to group objects together that are similar in appearance

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The tendency to group objects together that are near one another Gestalt Law of Proximity

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Combating Prejudice

Contact Theory:

Contact Theory Contact between groups will reduce animosity, but only if the groups are made to work together to achieve a goal Called a superordinate goal

Sherif’s (1966) Robbers Cave Study:

Sherif’s (1966) Robbers Cave Study Summer campers divided into 2 groups for competitions Negative feelings established between groups

Sherif’s (1966) Robbers Cave Study:

Sherif’s (1966) Robbers Cave Study Sherif staged several camp emergencies that required inter-group cooperation. The superordinate goal (solving crises) improved relations between groups.

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