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Chapter 5
Stereotypes, Prejudice, and
Defining Important Terms
• Racism: Prejudice and discrimination based on a
person’s background
• Sexism: Prejudice and discrimination based on a
person’s gender
• Stereotypes: Beliefs that associate a whole group
of people with certain traits.
• Prejudice: Negative feelings about others because
of their connection to a social group.
• Discrimination: Negative behaviors directed
against persons because of their membership in a
particular group.
Persistence and Change
• In general, stereotyping, prejudice, and
discrimination are less acceptable than ever
• But exceptions do exist.
Racism: Current Forms and Challenges
• Research reveals that racial prejudice has
been on the decline over the last several
• Re-election of Barack Obama was seen by
many as significant sign of racial progress
Types of Racism
• Modern Racism: A form of racism that surfaces
in subtle ways when it is safe, socially
acceptable, and easy to rationalize
• Implicit Racism: Racism that operates
unconsciously and unintentionally
Sexism: Ambivalence and Double
• Blatant displays of sexism are less socially
acceptable than in the past
– But do continue to persist today
• Gender stereotypes are distinct in that they
are not only descriptive, but also prescriptive
– They tell people what they should do or be
Ambivalent Sexism
• Form of sexism characterized by attitudes
about women that reflect both negative,
resentful beliefs/feelings as well as
affectionate and chivalrous but potentially
patronizing beliefs/feelings
– Hostile sexism
– Benevolent sexism
• Seems to have diminished over time, but
discrimination based on sex is still prevalent
Being Stigmatized
• Being persistently stereotyped, perceived as
deviant, and devalued in society because of
membership in a particular social group or
because of a particular characteristic.
Stereotype Threat
• Stereotype threat is the fear that one will be
reduced to a stereotype in the eyes of others.
• How can stereotype threat hamper academic
– The reactions to the threat can directly interfere
with performance.
– The threat can cause individuals to dismiss the
domain as no longer relevant to their self-esteem
and identity.
Social Categorization and Intergroup
• The classification of persons into groups on
the basis of attributes
• In some ways, is natural and adaptive
– Saves time and energy
• But can lead to overestimation of differences
between groups and underestimation of
differences within groups
Ingroups vs. Outgroups
• Strong tendency to divide people into ingroups and
• Consequences
– Exaggerate differences between ingroups and
other outgroups
– Outgroup homogeneity effect
• New research indicates that perceivers may actually
process faces of outgroup members more like
objects than fellow human beings
• Dehumanization has played a role in atrocities
throughout history
Social Identity Theory
• Two Basic Predictions:
– Threats to one’s self-esteem heighten the need for
ingroup favoritism.
– Expressions of ingroup favoritism enhance one’s
Culture and Social Identity
• Collectivists more likely to value connectedness and
interdependence with people and groups around
• Collectivists less likely to show biases favoring their
ingroups in order to boost their self-esteem.
• But collectivists may draw sharper distinctions
between ingroup and outgroup members.
• Socialization refers to process by which people learn
the norms, rules, and information of a culture or
– Includes stereotypes and status of groups
Gender Stereotypes
• Inundated with gender stereotypes from birth
and through the life span
– E.g., males more adventurous, assertive,
aggressive, independent, etc.
– E.g., females more sensitive, gentle, dependent,
emotional, etc.
• Media
• Children begin to understand these
stereotypes quite early – one study, by age of
Are Stereotypes Ever Accurate?
• What is meant by “accurate”?
• Stereotyping can often lead to self-fulfilling
prophecies which further distort perceptions
and realities
Confirmation Biases and Self-Fulfilling
• Stereotypes are often maintained and
strengthened through confirmation biases.
– Tendency to interpret, seek, and create
information to confirm expectations
• Stereotypes can cause a perceiver to act in
such a way that the stereotyped group
member really does behave in a stereotypeconfirming way.
– The stereotype creates a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
How Stereotypes Survive and
• Illusory correlation: The tendency for people
to overestimate the link between variables
that are only slightly or not at all correlated.
• Tend to overestimate the association between
variables when:
– The variables are distinctive
– The variables are already expected to go together