Stereotype
A cognitive process whereby people categorize others
Prejudice
An attitude that is combination of emotion and cognition
Discrimination
Treating someone differently based on his or her membership of a group, rather than on individual merit.

It is clear that no one factor (biological, cognitive, sociocultural) completely explains the origin of prejudice or how to reduce it.
The origins of prejudice are multi-factorial.

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The interaction of the three levels of analysis demonstrates the problems of looking at any one factor in isolation.
Society and culture may teach certain stereotypes and prejudices which influence the way people perceive or think about minorities or outsiders.

Example)

An interactionist approach to racism
Biological factors
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◈ Response from the amygdale

◈ Evolutionarily advantageous, to protect our genes from the out-group mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Cognitive factors
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◈ Availability heuristics

◈ The role of perception

◈ Cognitive dissonance
Sociocultural factors
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◈ Stereotyping

◈ Fundamental attribution error

◈ Contact hypothesis


Biological research on the origins of prejudice

<Hart (2000)>

☞ Findings: when white and black participants were given brief subliminal glimpses of faces of individuals from other ethnic groups, both showed increased activity in the amygdale, the part of the brain that is responsible for processing emotional responses to stimuli.


☞ Evaluation: The participants reported having no noticeable change in their emotional state during the study.
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<Fiske (2007)>

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☞ Procedures:
1. Participants were placed into an MRI scanner and then shown a series of photos.
2. These photos included people with disabilities, rich businessmen, older people, US Olympic athletes, and homeless people.

☞ Findings: when participants showed homeless person, their brains set off a series of reactions associated with disgust. An area in the brain called the insula was activated, which is usually a response to non-human objects such as a garbage and human waste.
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Evaluation of biological research

1. Since prejudice has an emotional component, it means that cognitive factors play a strong role in determining whether one actually acts in accordance with these immediate brain responses.

2. One of the concerns is the use of correlational research. Coorelational studies do not demonstrate causality, and can lead to bidirectional ambiguity.
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Cognitive research on the origins of prejudice


<Tversky and Kahnemann (1982)>
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People make many judgments based on the availability heuristic – that is, they base decisions on the information that is most readily available.

☞ Example: In the Czech Republic, if the discussions in the media and in social settings focus on the stereotypical poverty and crime rate among the gypsy populations, even without any personal experience, a businessperson may decide that a gypsy would not be right for a job at their company.

☞ It could be due to schema processing since people use schemas to process social information.


<Tedeschi and Rosenfield (1981)>
“Impression management theory”
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Much attitude change is seen as an attempt to avoid social anxiety and embarrassment, or to protect the positive view of one’s own identity.

<Devine (1989)> 
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Even when a person considers himself or herself to be low in prejudice, when put into contact with a member of a stereotyped group, the person will immediately react according to the cultural norms.

Sociocultrual research on the origins of prejudice


<Sherif (1961)>

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Aim: to see if the creation of groups alone would lead to conflict between two groups of boys aged 11 and 12 years.

Procedures:
1. The groups were carefully chosen to make the participants as homogenous as possible.
(They were all healthy, slightly above-average intelligence, European American, Protestant, and socially well-adjusted)

2. The boys were sent off to a summer camp, where the researchers were posing as the camp staff.

3. The boys were divided into two teams. Then, the groups engaged in a series of activities in order for them to “bond”.

4. The teams competed against each other in a series of games. As the game continued, the boys began to freely insult members of the other group,
and there were acts of aggression against the other team.

5. In order to diminish the hostility between the groups, the researchers established superordinate goals – that is, they created an urgent situation
which affected both groups, and which needed all of them to participate in order for the problem to be solved.

Findings: by having to work together, the individual group identities were broken down, and a new, more inclusive group identity was created, and the boys now began to cooperate peacefully.
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<Contact hypothesis>
“It has sometimes been held that merely by assembling people without regard for race, color, religion, or national origin, we can thereby destroy stereotypes and develop friendly attitudes.”
-Allport (1956)-




To what extent is prejudice biological, cognitive, and sociocultural? It is clear that no one factor completely explains the origin of prejudice or how to reduce it. The origins of prejudice are multi-factorial. The interaction of the three levels of analysis demonstrates the problems of looking at any one factor in isolation. For instance, BLA states that prejudice has an emotional component which means that cognitive factors play a strong role in determining whether one actually acts in accordance with these immediate brain responses. On the other hand, according to impression management theory (CLA), much attitude change is seen as an attempt to avoid social anxiety and embarrassment, or to protect the positive view of one’s own identity. At last, SLA says that society and culture may teach certain stereotypes and prejudices, which influence the way people perceive or think about minorities or outsiders. These learned perceptions may induce physiological arousal that may lead to hostile emotions against the out-group.