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Old 11-26-2013, 01:13 AM
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Default Trivia on stereotypes and prejudice (with reference at end)

"Stereotyped beliefs and prejudiced attitudes exist not only because of social conditionaing and because they enable people to displace hostilities, but also as byproducts of normal thinking processes. Many stereotypes spring less from malice of the heart than from the machinery of the mind.

One way we simplify our environment is to categorize-to organize the world by clustering objects into groups (Macrae & Bodenhausen, 2000, 2001). A biologist classifies plants and animals. A human classifies people. Having done so, we think about them more easily. If persons in a group share some similarities-if most MENSA members are smart, and most basketball players are tall-knowing their group memberships can provide useful information with minimal effort (Macrae & others, 1994). Stereotypes sometimes offer "a beneficial ratio of infomration gained to effort expended" (Sherman & others, 1998). Stereotypes represent cognitive efficiency. They are energy-saving schemes for making speedy judgments and predicting how others will think and act. Thus, stereotypes and outgroup bias may, as Carlos David Navarrete and others (2010) have noted, "serve ultimate, evolutionary functions," by enabling our ancestors to cope and survive.

Experiments expose our spontaneous categorization of people by race. Much as we organize what is actually a color continuum into what we perceive as distinct colors, such as red, blue, and green, so our "discontinuous minds" (Dawkins, 1993) cannot resist categorizing people into groups.

****By itself, such categorization is not prejudice, but it does provide a foundation for prejudice.*****


Prejudice is distinct from stereotyping and discrimination. Social psychologists explore these distinctions and the different forms that prejudice assumes today.
Prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination, racism, sexism-the terms often overlap. Let's clarify them....

Prejudice-a preconceived negative judgment of a group and its individual members.
Stereotype-a belief about the personal attributes of a group of people. Stereotypes are sometimes overgeneralized, inaccurate, and resistant to new information. Sometimes, they are accurate.

Prejudice is an attitude. An attitude is a distinct combination of feelings, inclinations to act, and beliefs. It can be easily remembered as the ABC's of attitudes: Affect (feelings), Behavior tendency (inclination to act), and Cognition (beliefs). A prejudiced person may dislike those different from self and behave in a discriminatory manner, believing them ignorant or dangerous.
The negative evaluations that mark prejudice often are supported by negative beliefs, called stereotypes. To stereotype is to generalize. To simplify the world, we generalize: The British are reserved. Americans are outgoing. Professors are absent minded. Such generalizations can be more or less true (and are not always negative)....
An accurate stereotype can be desirable. We call it "sensitivity to diversity" or "cultural awareness in a multicultural world." To stereotype the British as more concerned about punctuality than Mexicans is to understand what to expect and how to get along with others in each culture. "Accuracy dominates bias," notes Lee Jussim (2012). "The social perception of glass (of people judging others) is about 90 percent full."
The 10 percent problem with stereotypes arises when they are overgeneralized or just plain wrong. To presume that most American welfare clients are African American is to overgeneralize, because it just isn't so. To presume that single people are less conscientious and more neurotic than partnered people, as did people in one German study, was wrong, because it just wasn't so (Greitemeyer, 2009). To presume that people with disabilities are incompetent and asexual, as did Oregonians in another study, misrepresents reality (Nario-Redmond, 2010). To stigmatize the obese as slow, lazy, and undisciplined is inaccurate (Puhl & Heuer, 2009, 2010). To presume that Muslims are terrorists, priests are pedophiles, and evangelicals hate homosexuals overgeneralizes from the worst examples of each....

Prejudice is a negative attitude. Discrimination is a negative behavior. Discrimination often has its source in prejudicial attitudes (Dovidio & others, 1996;Wagner & others, 2008)....

Racism and sexism are institutional practices that discriminate, even when there is no prejudicial intent...."

Meyers, David G. (2013)Social Psychology
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