Social Psychology Final: Part 3

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What Is Prejudice?
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Prejudice is a widespread phenomenon, present in all societies of the world. What varies across societies are the particular social groups that are the victims of prejudice and the degree to which societies enable or discourage discrimination. Social psychologists define prejudice as a hostile or negative attitude toward a distinguishable group of people based solely on their group membership. It contains cognitive, emotional, and behavioral components.
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What are the three components of prejudice?
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Stereotypes, Emotions, and Discrimination
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Stereotypes: The Cognitive Component
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A stereotype is a generalization about a group of people in which identical characteristics are assigned to virtually all members of the group, regardless of actual variation among the members. A stereotype may be positive or negative, and it can be a useful, adaptive mental tool to organize the social world. However, by obliterating individual differences within a group of people, it can be come maladaptive and unfair both to the person holding the stereotype and to the target. Human cognitive processing perpetuates stereotypes through the phenomenon of the illusory correlation. Even positive stereotypes of a group can be limiting and demeaning to members. Modern stereotypes of gender—which can take the form of hostile sexism or benevolent sexism—justify discrimination against women and their relegation to traditional roles.
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Illusionary Correlation
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The tendency to see relationships, or correlations, between events that are actually unrelated
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Emotions: The Affective Component
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The deep emotional aspect of prejudice is what makes a prejudiced person so hard to argue with; logical arguments are not effective in countering emotions. This is the reason why prejudices can linger unconsciously long after a person wishes to be rid of them.
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Discrimination: The Behavioral Component
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Discrimination denotes actual behavior. It is defined as an unjustified negative or harmful action towards members of a group solely because of their membership in that group. Examples include police focus on black drug users rather than on the much larger number of white drug users, and microaggressions, the small insults and put-downs that many members of minority groups experience. Social distance is another measure of how people respond to groups that are different from their own.
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Modern Racism and Other Implicit Prejudices
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Modern racism (or sexism) is an example of a shift in normative rules about prejudice: Nowadays, people have learned to hide their prejudices in situations where they might be labeled as racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and so on.
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Measuring Implicit Prejudices
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Because many people don’t want to admit their prejudices openly, researchers have developed unobtrusive measures of implicit racism and other prejudices: the \”bogus pipeline\” (the attachment of a fake diagnostic apparatus on a person under study. The participant is falsely made to believe that this device detects any misreporting of information) was among the first, and the Implicit Association Test (IAT) is the most widely used today. However, controversy exists about what the IAT actually measures and whether it predicts prejudiced behavior.
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Activating Implicit Prejudices
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A more compelling way of measuring implicit prejudices is by observing how people actually behave when they are stressed, angry, have suffered a blow to their self-esteem, or otherwise are not in full control of their conscious intentions. They often behave with greater aggression or hostility toward a stereotyped target than toward members of their own group.
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The Effects of Prejudice on the Victim
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The prevalence of stereotypes and prejudices can create self-fulfilling prophecies both for members of the majority and for victims of prejudice. One cause of the difference in academic performance is stereotype threat, the anxiety that some groups feel when a stereotype about their group is activated—e.g., that women are not as good at math as men, that Asian people are smarter than white people, that old people are less mentally competent than young people, and so on.
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Self-fulfilling Prophecies
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The case wherein people have an expectation about what another person is like, which influences how they act toward that person, which causes that person to behave consistently with people’s original expectations, making the expectations come true)
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What Causes Prejudice?
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As a broad-based and universal attitude, prejudice may originally have served as a survival mechanism inducing people to favor their own families and tribes. But human beings are also biologically designed to be friendly and cooperative. Social psychologists strive to identify the conditions under which intergroup prejudice is fostered or reduced.
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What are four aspects of social life that can cause prejudice?
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Conformity to social rules Social categorization The way we assign meaning or make attributions The way we allocate resources
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Pressures to Conform: Normative Rules
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Institutional discrimination, including institutionalized racism and sexism, are norms operating throughout the society’s structure. Normative conformity, or the desire to be accepted and fit in, leads many people to go along with stereotyped beliefs and their society’s dominant prejudices and not challenge them. As norms change, so, often, does prejudice.
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Social Categorization: Us Versus Them
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Prejudice is enabled by the human tendency to organize people into in-groups and out-groups. Processes of social cognition are important in the creation and maintenance of stereotypes and prejudice. Categorization of people into groups leads to in-group bias (the tendency to treat members of our own group more positively than members of the outgroup) and out-group homogeneity (the mistaken perception that \”they\” are all alike).
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How We Assign Meaning: Attributional Biases
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The fundamental attribution error applies to prejudice: We tend to overestimate the role of dispositional forces when making sense out of others’ behavior. The tendency to make dispositional attributions about a person’s individual negative behavior and then generalize to their entire ethnic, racial, or religious group or gender is called the ultimate attribution error—making negative dispositional attributions about an entire out-group. When outgroup members act nonstereotypically, we tend to make situational attributions about them, thereby maintaining our stereotypes. One common out-group attribution is blaming the victim for one’s own prejudices and discriminatory behavior. Blaming the victim also promotes the in-group’s feelings of superiority, its religious or political identity, and the legitimacy of its power.
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Economic Competition: Realistic Conflict Theory
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Realistic conflict theory holds that prejudice is the inevitable by-product of real conflict between groups for limited resources, whether involving economics, power, or status. Competition for resources leads to derogation of and discrimination against the competing out-group, as happened with Chinese immigrants in the nineteenth century and happens with Mexican immigrants today. Scapegoating is a process whereby frustrated and angry people tend to displace their aggression from its real source to a convenient target—an out-group that is disliked, visible, and relatively powerless.
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How Can Prejudice Be Reduced?
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Prejudice may be universal, but social psychologists have investigated many of the conditions under which intergroup hostility can be reduced and better relationships fostered. It is not enough simply to provide prejudiced people with information that they are stereotyping the out-group; they will often cling even more tightly to their beliefs.
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The Contact Hypothesis
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According to the contact hypothesis, the most important way to reduce prejudice between racial and ethnic groups is through contact, bringing in-group and out-group members together. Such contact has been shown to be effective in many situations, from integrating housing projects and the military to fostering friendships across ethnic lines at universities. However, mere contact is not enough and can even exacerbate existing negative attitudes.
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When Contact Reduces Prejudice: Six Conditions
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For contact between two groups to be truly successful in reducing prejudice, six conditions must be met: mutual interdependence a common goal equal status informal, interpersonal contact multiple contacts social norms of equality.
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Mutual Interdependence
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The need to depend on one another to accomplish a goal that is important to both sides.
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Cooperation and Interdependence: The Jigsaw Classroom
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The jigsaw classroom is a form of cooperative learning in which children from different ethnic groups must cooperate in order to learn a lesson. It has been shown to be highly effective in improving minority students’ self-esteem and performance, increasing empathy, and promoting intergroup friendships.

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