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10.4A: Prejudice

  • Page ID
    8242
  • [ "article:topic", "prejudice" ]

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    • Apply the concepts of in-group favoritism and prejudice to a real-life situation

    When we meet strangers we automatically process three pieces of information about them: their race, gender, and age. Why are these aspects of an unfamiliar person so important? Why don’t we instead notice whether their eyes are friendly, whether they are smiling, their height, the type of clothes they are wearing? Although these secondary characteristics are important in forming a first impression of a stranger, the social categories of race, gender, and age provide a wealth of information about an individual. This information, however, often is based on stereotypes. We may have different expectations of strangers depending on their race, gender, and age.

    Prejudice is a negative attitude and feeling toward an individual based solely on one’s membership in a particular social group (Allport, 1954; Brown, 2010). Prejudice is common against people who are members of an unfamiliar cultural group. Thus, certain types of education, contact, interactions, and building relationships with members of different cultural groups can reduce the tendency toward prejudice. In fact, simply imagining interacting with members of different cultural groups might affect prejudice. Indeed, when experimental participants were asked to imagine themselves positively interacting with someone from a different group, this led to an increased positive attitude toward the other group and an increase in positive traits associated with the other group.

    Prejudice often begins in the form of a stereotype—that is, a specific belief or assumption about individuals based solely on their membership in a group, regardless of their individual characteristics. Stereotypes become overgeneralized and applied to all members of a group. For example, as Hodge, Burden, Robinson, and Bennett (2008) point out, black male athletes are often believed to be more athletic, yet less intelligent, than their white male counterparts. These beliefs persist despite a number of high profile examples to the contrary. Sadly, such beliefs often influence how these athletes are treated by others and how they view themselves and their own capabilities. Whether or not you agree with a stereotype, stereotypes are generally well-known within in a given culture.

    Key Points

    • When we meet strangers we automatically process several pieces of information about them, including the social categories of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and ability.
    • First impressions are often based on stereotypes. For example, we may have different expectations of strangers depending on their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and ability.
    • Prejudice is a negative attitude and feeling toward an individual based solely on one’s membership in a particular social group.
    • Prejudice often begins in the form of a stereotype—that is, a specific belief or assumption about individuals based solely on their membership in a group, regardless of their individual characteristics. Stereotypes become overgeneralized and applied to all members of a group.

    Key Terms

    • stereotype: A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image of a group of people or things.
    • prejudice: A positive or negative evaluation of another person based on their perceived group membership (e.g., race, class, or gender).