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Flashcards in Social Behaviour: Prejudice Deck (26):


A stereotype is “… affixed, over generalised belief about a particular group of class of people.” (Cardwell, 1996).
Advantage: it enables us to respond to situations because we may have had a similar experience before.
Disadvantage: makes us ignore differences between individuals; therefore, we think things about people that might not be true i.e. make generalisations.
The use of stereotypes is a major way in which we simplify our social world; since they reduce the amount of processing (i.e. thinking) we must do when we meet a new person.
By stereotyping we infer that a person has a whole range of characteristics and abilities that we assume all members of that group have. Stereotypes lead to social categorisation, which is one of the reasons for prejudice attitudes (i.e. ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality) which leads to in-groups and out-groups. Most stereotypes probably tend to convey a negative impression. Positive examples would include judges (the phrase ‘sober as a judge’ would suggest this is a stereotype with a very respectable set of characteristics), overweight people (who are often seen as ‘jolly’) and television news readers (usually seen as highly dependable, respectable and impartial). Negative stereotypes seem far more common, however.



Prejudice is an unjustified or incorrect attitude (usually negative) towards an individual based solely on the individual’s membership of a social group.
For example, a person may hold prejudiced views towards a certain race or gender etc. (e.g. sexist).



Discrimination is the behaviour or actions, usually negative, towards an individual or group of people, especially based on sex/ race/ social class etc.


Examples of Discrimination:

WW2 – In Germany and German-controlled lands, Jewish people had to wear yellow stars to identify themselves as Jews. Later, the Jews were placed in concentration camps by the Nazis.
Racism: Racial discrimination in South Africa. Apartheid (literally ‘separateness) was a system of racial segregation that was enforced in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. Non-white people were prevented from voting and lived in separate communities.
Sexism: Gender discrimination in Western societies. While woman are often discriminated against in the workplace, men are often discriminated against in the home and family environments. For instance, after a divorce, women receive primary custody of the children far more often than men. Woman on average earn less pay than men for doing the same job.
Nationalism: Nationalism is the belief that a particular nation and its culture, people, and values are superior to those of other nations and thus that one’s own nation will benefit from acting independently, rather than in coordination with other nations. Nationalists are those people who identify, perhaps strongly, with a particular nation.
Classism: Classism is differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class. Classism is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups. It’s the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class.


Structure of Attitudes:

Attitudes structure can be described in terms of three components.
Cognitive component: this involves a person’s belief/ knowledge about an attitude object. For example: “I believe spiders are dangerous”.
Affective component: this involves a person’s feelings/ emotions about the attitude object. For example: “I am sacred of spiders”.
Behavioural (or conative) component: the way the attitude we have influences how we act or behave. For example: “I will avoid spiders and scream if I see one”.
This model is known as the ABC or CAB model of attitudes.
The cognitive aspect of prejudice is what we know about the object of our prejudice. This aspect is based primarily on our beliefs about the characteristic of a person or group. If we dislike a group then we are selective in our processing of evidence that supports our beliefs about members of this group (e.g. they are lazy, untrustworthy, dirty, stupid).
The affective aspect of prejudice is what we feel about the object of our prejudice. This arises because of an emotional reaction we experience whenever we come into contact with the object. When applied to prejudices, a person may have an aversion to people of another race for no obvious reason (e.g. “Polish take our jobs”).
The behavioural aspect of prejudice refers to a tendency to act in a particular way towards the object of our prejudice, usually arising from our beliefs and feelings about them. A person may act according to the affective and cognitive aspects of their prejudice (e.g. they may exchange racist jokes or speak negatively about an ethnic group because they genuinely dislike the ethnic group (affective) and believe it is inferior (cognitive)).


Confirmation Bias:

Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.
One factor that influences prejudice in social situations is that people tend to seek and remember information that confirms their expectations. This is called confirmation bias. If a person has a stereotyped or prejudiced view of another person, evidence that supports this prejudiced view will be noticed and remembered, while evidence that contradicts expectations will be discounted and forgotten.
For example, suppose an employer had the opinion that a person formerly on welfare was likely to be irresponsible if given a job. That employer might have a confirmation bias, so any example of irresponsible behaviour in such a person would be noticed and emphasised, while any positive or responsible behaviour might be ignored or discounted. In the end, the person may be fired from the job after a few problems. Someone else who had the same problems, but was not expected to have problems, might not be fired.


Two Theories of Prejudice:

There are two main theories of prejudice and discrimination that you need to know for Higher;

1. Social Identity Theory
2. Authoritarian Personality


Social Identity Theory:

Henri Tajfel’s greatest contribution to psychology was the social identity theory. Social identity is a person’s sense of who they are based on their group membership(s). Tajfel proposed that the groups (e.g. social class, family, football team etc.) which people belonged to were an important source of pride and self-esteem. Groups give us a sense of social identity: a sense of belonging to the social world.
To increase our self-image, we enhance the status of the group to which we belong. For example, “Britain is the best country in the world!”. We can also increase our self-image by discriminating and being prejudiced against the out group (the group in which you don’t belong to). For example, “The rest of the world are a bunch of losers!”.
Therefore, we divided the world into ‘them’ and ‘us’ through a process of social categorisation (i.e. we put people into social groups).
This is known as in-groups (us) and out-groups (them). Social identity theory states that the in-group will discriminate against the out-group to enhance their self-image.
The central hypothesis of social identity theory is that group members of an in-group will seek to find negative aspects of an out-group, thus enhancing their self-image.
Prejudice between cultures may result in racism; in its extreme forms, racism may result in genocide, such as occurred in Germany with the Jews, in Rwanda between Hutus and Tutsis and in the former Yugoslavia between the Bosnians and Serbians.
Henri Tajfel proposed that stereotyping (i.e. putting people into groups and categories) is based on a normal cognitive process: the tendency to group things together. In doing so we tend to exaggerate:

1. The differences between groups
2. The similarities in the same group

We categorise people in the same way. We see the group to which we belong (the in-group) as being different from the others (the out-group), and members of the same group as being more similar than they are. Social categorisation is one explanation for prejudice attitudes (i.e. ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality) which leads to in-groups and out-groups.


Social Identity Theory Outiline:

Social identity theory was developed by Henri Tajfel and John Turner in 1979. Tajfel and Turner proposed that there are four mental processes involved in evaluating others as ‘us’ or ‘them’ (i.e. in-group and out-group). These take the order of;

Social Categorisation

Social Identification

Social Comparison

Psychological Distinctiveness

The first is social categorisation. We categorise objects to understand them and identify them. In a very similar way we categorise people (including ourselves) to understand the social environment. We use social categories like black, white, Australian, Cristian, student, bus driver etc. because they are useful.
If we can assign people to a category then that tells us things about those people, and as we saw with the bus driver example we couldn’t function in a normal manner without using these categories; i.e. in the context of the bus. Similarly, we find out things about ourselves by knowing what categories we belong to. We define appropriate behaviour by reference to the norms of groups we belong to, but you can only do this if you can tell who belongs to your group. An individual can belong to many different groups.
In the second stage, social identification, we adopt the identity of the group we have categorised ourselves as belonging to. If for example, you have categorised yourself as a student, the chances are you will adopt the identity of a student and begin to act in the ways you believe students act (and conform to the norms of the group). There will be an emotional significance to your identification with a group, and your self-esteem will become bound up with group membership.
The third stage is social comparison. Once we have categorised ourselves as part of a group and have identified with that group we then tend to compare that group with other groups. If our self-esteem is to be maintained our group needs to compare favourably with other groups. This is critical to understanding prejudice, because once two groups identify themselves as rivals they are forced to compete for the members to maintain their self-esteem. Competition and hostility between groups is thus not only a matter of competing for resources (like in gangs) like jobs but also the result of competing identities.
The final stage is psychological distinctiveness. Once we have compared, we want our group to be distinctive from and superior to other groups, and will act to increase this. Just to reiterate, in social identity theory the group membership is not something foreign or artificial which is attached onto the person, it is real, true and vital part of the person. Again, it is crucial to remember in-groups are groups you identify with, and out-groups are ones that we don’t identify with, and may discriminate against.


Tajfel’s ‘Minimal Group’ Study (1971):

Aim: To find out what the minimal conditions were for intergroup bias.
Method: Experimental – laboratory
Procedure: To conduct proper experiments, he followed several criteria:
1. No face-to-face interaction between subjects (in- or out-group).
2. No subjects could know to which group other subjects belonged.
3. The responses of the subjects that would demonstrate bias could not in any way be justified by the group membership inclusion criteria.
4. The responses of the subject should not benefit them in any useful way.
5. A strategy of intergroup differentiation should be in competition with a more practical or rational strategy that benefits the in-group in absolute terms.
6. The response should be made important and real to the subject.
Two experiments were conducted. The first of which consisted of 64 male subjects aged 14 to 15 who estimated the number of dots projected on a screen. They were divided into four groups, under two different experimental conditions. In the "neutral" condition, subjects were told that some overestimate and others underestimate, but this did not reflect accuracy. In the "value" condition, the subjects were told that some people are more accurate than others.
The subjects were then randomly assigned to one of the four groups (over estimators, under estimators, accurate, inaccurate) regardless of their actual performance (which was irrelevant for this experiment). Now each subject had the opportunity to give cash awards to different subjects based on group membership.
In the second experiment, 48 of the same boys were divided into three groups this time. They were shown slides of reproductions of paintings by two artists, Klee and Kandinsky, with slides identified by number and painting by a letter. They were asked which ones they preferred, although the artist remained anonymous to them. Again, each of the groups were randomly assigned to either the "Klee" or the "Kandinsky" group, and the subjects were presented with matrices where they could assign monetary rewards to their own group and the other group.
Results: All the groups shown signification favouritism for their in-group, and there was striking evidence for discriminatory in-group behaviour. Participants were even willing to limit their own reward so that the gap between them and the out group would widen.
Prior to Tajfel’s work, it was believed that group bias (favouritism and/ or prejudice) arose from personal interests of group members or from conflict. Tajfel demonstrated that the minimal condition needed for group favouritism is simply categorisation into a group, no matter how random/ meaningless the criteria for categorisation.


Tajfel’s ‘Minimal Group’ Study (1971): Criticisms

Tajfel’s original experiments were criticised since he used young students, who are generally competitive and susceptible to bias. The methodology he used was also criticised by those who argued that the nature of the experiment led students to assume the idea was to favour their group (Demand Characteristics in play).
Lemyre and Smith (1985) found that people displayed higher levels of self-esteem when they could discriminate between in-groups and out-group members.
Brewer (1979) argued that it was important to note that not all individuals who show favouritism towards the in group don’t always discriminate against the out-group.


Authoritarian Personality:

Adorno et al. (1950) proposed that prejudice is the results of an individual’s personality type.
They piloted and developed a questionnaire, which they called the F-scale (F for fascism). Adorno argued that deep-seated personality traits predisposed some individuals to be highly sensitive to totalitarian and antidemocratic idea and therefore were prone to be highly prejudicial.
The evidence they gave to support this conclusion included:
• Case studies e.g. Nazis
• Psychometric testing (use of the F-scale)
• Clinical interviews revealed situational aspects of their childhood, such as the fact that they had been brought up by very strict parents or guardians, which were found of participants who scored highly on the F-scale not always found in the backgrounds of low scorers.
The authoritarian personality was made up of the following traits:

1. Conventionalism Rigid adherence to conventional, middle class attitudes.
2. Authoritarian Submission Submissive, uncritical attitude towards idealised moral authorities of in-group.
3. Authoritarian Aggression Tendency to be on the lookout for, and to condemn, reject, and punish people who violate, conventional values.
4. Anti-interception Opposition to the subjective, the imaginative, the tender minded.
5. Superstitions and Stereotypy The belief in mystical determinants of the individuals fate; the disposition to think in rigid categories.
6. Power and ‘Toughness’ Preoccupation with the dominance-submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension.
7. Destruction and Cynicism Generalised hostility, vilification of the human.
8. Projectivity The disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world.
9. Sex Exaggerated concern with sexual ‘goings-on’.

Adorno concluded that people with authoritarian personalities where likely to categorise people into ‘us’ and ‘them’ groups, seeing their own group as superior. Therefore, the study indicated that individuals with a very strict upbringing by critical and harsh parents were most likely to develop an authoritarian personality.
Adorno believed that this was because the individual in question was not able to express hostility towards their parents (for being strict and critical). Consequently, the person would then displace this aggression/ hostility onto safer targets, namely those who are weaker, such as ethnic minorities.
Adorno et al. felt that authoritarian traits, as identified by F-scale, predispose some individuals towards ‘fascistic’ characteristics such as:
In other words, according to Adorno, the Eichmann’s of this world are there because they have authoritarian personalities and therefore are predisposed cruelty, as result of their upbringing.



Education has become popular tool in the battle against prejudice.
Raising Awareness (Cognitive Approach). In recent years school curriculum has incorporated raising awareness of prejudice with pupils by increasing their knowledge and awareness of the issues involved in prejudice. This has normally occurred as part of the PSE or RME curriculum in Scotland.
Similarly, special focus events are becoming vital part of the pupils learning experiences, e.g. show racism the Red Card (Racism) or Nil by Mouth (Sectarianism)
Perspective taking (Affective Approach). Taking the perspective of an individual from a stigmatised group has been shown to be effective in reducing prejudiced, because it evokes feelings of similarity and affinity toward the other person. Evidence from laboratory studies suggests that perspective taking specifically leads to decrease in the use of stereotypes when categorising or evaluating a member of stigmatised group.
Empathy (Affective Approach). Encouraging individuals to empathic towards stigmatised groups is another feeling-based strategy. Being instructed to be empathetic after reading about or watching videos of decimation, against a stigmatised group, such as African Americans, results in decreased expressions of prejudice, and a stronger willingness to engage in contact with members of the stigmatised group.


Jane Elliott – Blue Eyes/ Brown Eyes (1968):

Aim: To see if by dividing a class by eye colour her pupils would experience discrimination and what it can do to people.
Method: Experimental -field
Procedure: Elliott divided her class by eye colour – those with blue eyes and those with brown eyes. On the first day, the blue – eyed children were told they were smarter, nicer, neater and better than those with brown eyes. Throughout the day Elliott praised them and allowed them privileges such as taking a longer recess and being first in the lunch line. In contrast, the brown-eyed children had to wear collars around their necks and their behaviour and performance were criticised and ridiculed by Elliott. On the second day, the roles were reversed and the blue-eyed children were made to feel inferior while the brown eyes were designated the dominant group.
Results: Over the course of the unique two-day exercise astonished both students and teacher. On both days, children who were designated as inferior took on the look and behaviour of genuinely inferior students, performing poorly on tests and other work. In contrast, the ‘superior’ students – students who had been sweet and tolerant before the exercise – became mean-spirited and seemed to like discriminating against the ‘inferior’ group.
Conclusion: By dividing the class by eye colour the pupils experienced discrimination and discrimination against each other.


Jane Elliott – Blue Eyes/ Brown Eyes (1968): Strengths

The study has ecological validity in that most people who have participated in the original research (and replications) report a reduction in prejudice.


Jane Elliott – Blue Eyes/ Brown Eyes (1968): Weaknesses

Ethical issues have risen with of children in a research study without informed consent. Results of children are not necessarily generalisable to the adult population.
Ethical concerns wiht this study:
She used children (under 16) so consent wasn’t fully given (from parents/ guardians/ careers) which is ethically wrong and won’t have given a ‘safety net’ for the participants.
The participants weren’t fully debriefed before and after the experiment and may have come to emotional harm by the experiment which is ethically wrong.


Allport’s Contact Hypothesis (1954):

According to Allport, prejudice can be reduced by increasing social contact between prejudiced individuals and the groups against which they are prejudiced. As we have seen previously, prejudice often involves stereotypes, which are based on assuming that everyone in each group is similar. According to Allport social contact on its own is not usually enough. If social contact is to prove successful, then four conditions need to be met:
• The two groups have equal status within the situation in which the contact takes place.
• Both groups are working towards a common goal.
• Efforts to attain this goal are based on inter-group cooperation, rather than inter-group competition.
• There should be formal institutional support for inter-group acceptance.


Allport’s Contact Hypothesis (1954): Strengths

Social contact can lead to a reduction in prejudice, especially between groups of equal social status. Social contact gives a chance for the prejudiced to break their pre-conceived notions about a given group.


Allport’s Contact Hypothesis (1954): Weaknesses

The effects of social contact are often limited, if controls are not put in place should inter-group cooperation fail to occur. The anxiety felt by the participants may cause a contact to be unsuccessful or at least not reach its potential.


Superordinate Goals:

That gets people from opposing sides to come together and work toward a common result. For example, if you have two groups of people that seriously dislike each other you might set up a situation in which they simply must work together to be successful (e.g. maybe the two groups get lost in the jungle together and the only way they survive is to work together). This breaks down barriers, encourages people to see each other as just people and not as part of “that other group we dislike”, and can help overcome differences between the groups.


Aronson and Osherow’s (1980) Jigsaw Classroom Method:

In this US-based experiment, a class of black and white children was divided into small groups for a learning task. Within each group, every child was made responsible for learning a different part of the information given. Each member of the group then taught the others what they had learned and were marked according to how well they had explained what they had learned to their groups. This approach was called the Jigsaw Classroom, i.e. a way of reducing prejudice where the teacher arranges for all the students to have an important contribution to make to reach common goals. So, just as all the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle are needed to complete it, all the children in the class contributed in this experiment.


Sherif et al (1961) ‘Robbers Cave’ Experiment:

22 boys spent 2 weeks at a summer camp, in the US. They were put in 2 groups – the Eagles and the Rattlers – and were kept separate so that group cohesion/ bonding could take place. They were then brought together and told whichever group did better in the various activities set for them, that group would win a trophy, knives and medals. The competition grew so fierce that a fight broke out between the groups and the Rattlers’ flag was burned! Each group regarded its own members as ‘friendly’ and ‘courageous’, whereas those in their rival group were ‘smart-alecks’ and ‘liars’. To reduce the prejudice between the two groups, the water supply was turned off and both teams had to work together to get it to work again. Because of these common goals, the two groups were friendlier with each other.


Sherif et al (1961) ‘Robbers Cave’ Experiment: Strengths

This experiment proves that competition between groups often leads to prejudice. Getting the prejudiced to interact with their targets con help in reducing the conflict and misconceptions.


Sherif et al (1961) ‘Robbers Cave’ Experiment: Weaknesses

Competition has less serious consequences if members of the competing groups already know each other well enough beforehand. Prejudice can develop ibn the absence of direct competition between groups, due to social categorisation.


Can Friendship Triumph Over Prejudice? (Cool et al 2011):

A wealth of research has shown that people typically feel more uncomfortable when dealing with someone from a different social group rather than someone from their own group. This can be for a range of reasons, including negative stereotypes, uncertainty about how they’ll be evaluated or even fear, that they’ll be perceived as prejudiced. But little researched until now is the positive effect of friendship on these kinds of interactions. Now a US study led by Jonathon Cook has found that friendship removes the discomfort associated with interacting with someone of a different ethnicity, but fails to remove all the anxieties associated with interacting with someone who has a different sexual orientation.
64 university and community participants used a handheld computer to record their social interactions for a week, including answering questions about how they felt, who they had met with and whether they were friends.
For white gay and lesbian’s participants and black participants of all sexual persuasions, interacting with a person of a different ethnicity was less comfortable and provoked more negative feeling than interacting with someone of the same ethnicity. Unless, that is, the other person was a friend, in which case the discomfort and anxiety evaporated.
White, heterosexual participants felt no discomfort interacting with people of other ethnicities (perhaps because, in this study, they were mainly liberal students and always in the majority social group). If the other ethically different person was a friend, the straight white person felt more comfortable that if interacting with a white friend! Perhaps, the researchers surmised, this was because “demonstrating that one is not prejudiced to a historically marginalised out-group … [is] self-affirming and evidence of one’s positive inter-ethnic attitudes”.
It wasn’t such good news for interactions between straight and gay people. Men (but not women) of either sexual orientation, still felt inhibited interacting with another person of the opposite sexual orientation, even if they were friends. This is consistent with past research showing that heterosexual women are more accepting of homosexuality than heterosexual men. “Heterosexual men who interact with gay men or lesbians may also fear they will be misclassified as gay,” the researchers said. “For gay men, awareness that attitudes towards them are negative and that homosexuality is often seen as a violation of gender norms is the most likely explanation for continuing behavioural inhibition, even with friendship controlled,” they added.
A more encouraging result in this record, is that more prior contact with people of the opposite sexual orientation (another of the recorded measure) was associated with less negative feelings during new interactions of that kind.
“Our results offer several hopeful findings about the potential for comfortable social interactions with out-group members,” Cook and his colleagues concluded. “When people make friends with others who have a different ethnic identity, friendship appears to largely convey the same interpersonal comfort experienced among in-group friends. Sexual orientation may entail more enduring barriers to comfortable inter-group interactions, particularly for males, but here too we found grounds for optimism.
Therefore Cook (2011) concluded that friendship can act as an eradicator of friendship.


Institutional Racism:

Institutional racism is a pattern of social institutions – such as governmental organisations, schools, banks, and courts of law – giving negative treatment to a group of people based on their race.
Institutional racism leads to inequality; psychologists use the concept to explain why some people face unequal treatment or occupy unequal statuses.
One historic example of institutional racism is the barring of African-American students from attending certain public schools, which limited the student’s educational opportunities and helped prevent them from achieving a status equal to that of other.
Institutional racism need not involve intentional racial discrimination. For example, individual judges might intend to impose similar sentences for similar crimes; yet if Caucasian people tend to receive lighter punishments, plausibly institutional racism occurs.