4.3 An Integrative approach to prejudice ad discrimination

Why does prejudice &
discrimination continue?
 Prejudice and discrimination can be considered the
result of complex interactions of different factors:
 Biological
 Cognitive
 Sociocultural
Key Terms
 Stereotyping
 A cognitive process in which people categorize others i.e. in
terms of belonging to a social group, appearance etc.
 Prejudice
 Attitude – a combination of emotions and cognition.
 Individuals judge others on attributes and apply an
emotional component to their view of the individual.
 Discrimination
 Behavior – an individual treats someone differently based
upon his/her membership of a group, rather than their
Biological Research on the
origins of prejudice
 Hart (2000) Assessed neurological region of the brain
associated with prejudice
 Procedure: White and Blacks given brief subliminal
glimpse of faces of individuals of different ethnic
origins. MRI monitored activity.
 Findings: Activity observed in the amygdala
(emotional center).
 Phelps (2000) found similar results in activation of
amygdala when individuals were exposed to stimuli
and scores on a standardized test for ethnic
Implicit association Test
 http://www.understandingprejudice.org/iat/
 Banaji and Greenwald – test subconscious prejudice.
 Friske – 16 min. 49 sec.
 MRI, showed photos of disabled, rich, athletes,
disabled, homeless.
 Homeless images resulted in the insula lighting up
(associated with disgust)
 Warm, productive images triggered dorsomedial
prefrontal cortex.
 Friske – supports ideas that dehumanization of
groups leads to changes in the way the brain works.
 How does Friske in the documentary explain how
changes in the brain can be overcome?
Evolutionary Arguments
 This behavior may be a way to protect the gene pool.
 Being able to detect a threat from an out-group, may
have evolutionary advantages for the gene pool.
 How does this idea fit in todays society?
Strengths and Limitations of
evolutionary theory
(+) can link prejudice to a brain function
(+) Out groups trigger immediate response to amygdala
(+) Cognitive control of emotion reacts in frontal lobe
(-)Prejudice has an emotion component which means there must be
a cognitive factor in how one responds
Bettelheim and Janowitz (1964) one’s stereotypes do
not predict one’s feelings of prejudice or discrimination.
(-) Cunningham (2004) longer exposure to the images results in
frontal lobe activity in addition to the amygdala.
(-) Phelps – can not conclude is the activation of the amygdala was
innate response or learned response.
Pages 130- 132
Cognitive research on the
origins of prejudice
 What role does hostility, as an emotion, play in
 And, how does it become connected to stereotypes
that develop in a culture?
 Tversky and Kahnemaa (1982) – people make
judgments based upon the availability heuristic,
that is, based upon what information is readily
available to them.
 Cognitively this may be seen as schema processing.
“cognitive miser”
 Friske and Taylor – described the term “cognitive
 People have limited capacity to process social
information and therefore use shortcuts or develop
simple rules (heuristics) in order to make complex
issues more simple.
 Example – Darley and Gross (1983)
Darley and Gross
 Method: laboratory experiment
 Often called the Hannah Study
 Aim: to test the hypothesis that schematic processing
result in distorted perceptions of people when they have
to make judgments about their ability.
 Procedure: Participants saw 2 videos of a girl.
 First experiment – participant viewed both videos
 Follow-up experiment participants viewed either video 1 or
 In video 1, girl was playing in a poor environment.
 In video 2, girl was playing in a middle class environment.
 Then they saw a video of the girl taking what looked to be
an intelligence test and answering the questions
Darley and Gross cont.,
 Findings:
 Experiment 1: When the participant were asked to predict
the academic prospects of the two girls ALL said they
would do fine and have an education
 Researchers interpreted this as USA fundamental belief
 Experiment 2:
 When participants were asked to judge the future of the
girls, they all said the “rich” girl would do well and the
“poor” girl would do less well.
 On average they judges the “rich” Hannah as having a 5th
grade academic level, and “poor” Hannah at a 4th grade
Darley and Gross cont.,
 Results:
 The study demonstrates that participants probably
used pre-stored schemas of what it means to be poor
and rich.
 They then interpreted the rest of the scene based on
these schemas.
 Due to ambiguous information about the girl in the
testing scenario, the participants used the information
from the first video to form an impression
 What schema processing did the participants assume
in the follow-up experiment?
 What is the problem with this kind of processing?
 Can this lead to self-fulfilling prophecy?
 What would Rosenthal and Jacobson say?
Principles of sociocultural
levels of analysis
Humans are social animals ( need to belong)
Culture influence behavior
Social Self
Peoples views of the world are resistant to change
1. To overcome stereotyping , individuals must
overcome “conformational bias”
Looking for information that confirms their prejudice.
How do you do this?
PROOF, EVIDENCE must be presented to the individual
holding the prejudice.
Impression management theory
 Tedeschi and Rosenfield (1981) – attitude change is
seen as an attempt to avoid social anxiety and
embarrassment, or to protect the positive veiw of
one’s own identity.
 Jane Elliot (1960) (14:36)
How do you think people estimate the future of a
child coming from either one off these areas?
 Explain why it is so,
arguing on evidence.
 What are the
implications of this?
 What could a member of
society do to prevent that
prejudice about poor
children’s academic
capacity becomes true?
Pg 133 - 134
Is ones behavior based on
Gender, sexuality or ethnicity?
 To base ones behavior on gender, sexuality or
ethnicity would be attribution error.
 Actor-observer bias confirms the belief in a group
 In-group members are successful because of who they
 Out-group is not successful because of who they are
 Any success by the out group is purely luck, outside
assistance or circumstance.
Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory:
roots to prejudice & discrimination
 Robbers’ Cave Experiment ( Sherif 1961)
 Group identity on intergroup conflict
 Realistic Conflict Theory – when there is competition
for limited resources negative feelings will arise.
 Method: Field Experiment (created ecological
 Procedure: 2 groups – Eagles and the Rattlers
 Hypothesis: when two groups have conflicting aims,
their members will become hostile to each other.
Diminishing the hostility
 Superordinate goals – an urgent situation was
 e.g. natural disasters, 911, impact on survival
 Contact Hypothesis – the reduction of prejudice as
observed through superordinate goals.
 Prejudice is reduced when the groups are perceived
are equal.
Evaluating Contact Hypothesis
 When contact is positive: prejudice is reduce
 When contact is natural vs forced it brings about the
strongest results in prejudice reduction.
 Limitations of Sheif’s study:
Homogenous group
No long history of oppression
All participants came to the camp voluntarily
Group had equal status when they arrived.
 The origin of prejudice is multi-factorial.
 Must take a holistic approach to understand the problem.
 Biological
 response from the amygdala
 evolutionary advantageous to protect the genes form the out-group
 Cognitive
 Availability heuristics
 The role of perception
 Cognitive dissonance
 Sociocultural factors
 Stereotyping (social cognition)
 Fundamental attribution error
 Contact hypothesis

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