Psychology Worksheet

1. Education (e.g., Dovidio & Gaertner)
2. Inhibiting automatically activated stereotypes
3. Contact
Kite & Whitley (2016)
3. Allport’s contact hypothesis
Direct contact between hostile groups will reduce intergroup prejudice UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS (e.g., Sherif’s
Robber’s Cave Experiment)
Kite & Whitley (2016)
1. Equal Status:
•2. Personal
Critical: groups
or equal
status Goals:
•• Even
initially differ
3. Cooperative
a context
goals and
within the group
•4. Social
is necessary
or Support
based on cooperation
Law or Custom:
• than
intergroup contact
• Robber’s
should beCave
by explicit
• Aronson’s Jigsaw Classroom
support from authorities and
social institutions
• Ex: military authority, religious
settings, civil rights legislation
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Pettigrew and Tropp (2000, 2006, 2008) meta-analyses found reliable support for benefits of intergroup contact in
reducing prejudice by:
Enhancing knowledge about the outgroup
Reducing anxiety about intergroup contact
Increasing empathy and perspective taking
Attitude change with contact group members extended to entire outgroup
Size of effect largest for heterosexual – gay/lesbian contact (larger than age, race)
Small effect size for physical disabilities and mental illness
¡ Most effective when at least some of the four conditions for intergroup contact were met
¡ Contact studies extended to a variety of social identity groups: age, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Increases:
¡ Reduces:
Knowledge about outgroups
Empathy for outgroup
Interest in other cultures
Expectations that intergroup interaction will have
negative outcomes
Motivation to control prejudice
Perceptions of intergroup threat
Intergroup anxiety
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Not everyone benefits from intergroup contact
¡ Limiting factors include:
Pre-existing intergroup attitudes: May not be effective for people already low or very high in prejudice
Intergroup anxiety: People high in intergroup anxiety are more likely to avoid contact with members of outgroups
Kite & Whitley (2016)
Three forms of indirect contact:
Extended contact
Imagined contact
Media contact
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Having an ingroup friend who has outgroup
friend(s) is associated with lower prejudice
¡ Friendships across groups — creates optimal
contact conditions
Equal status
Meaningful one-on-one interactions that extend
across time and settings
Cooperation toward shared goals
¡ Friendships are associated with more positive
attitudes and behaviors toward outgroup members
¡ Recategorization: including outgroup into new
social category
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Operates through four interrelated processes:
Reduces intergroup anxiety
Cognitive dissonance
Demonstrates intergroup relationships are permissible
Shows outgroup members are open to such relationships
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Mentally practicing a “positive, relaxed, and comfortable” first meeting with an outgroup member:
Rehearsal plays a key role in self-regulation of emotions and planning of behavior
Allows people to develop a script for the interaction
¡ Reduces:
Negative intergroup emotions
Physiological arousal in response to intergroup contact
¡ Increases perspective-taking
¡ Not as effective as face-to-face contact
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ People observe members of other groups through TV, movies, news, etc.:
Positive portrayals in the media can be effective in improving intergroup attitudes
May increase subtyping of non-prototypical members
Kite & Whitley (2016)
Three processes influence how intergroup contact changes attitudes:
Personalization: Intergroup contact reduces prejudice by leading people to see members of the outgroup as individuals
¡ Makes group categories less useful as a source of information about individuals (decategorization: deemphasizing the
bonds between individuals/groups)
¡ Intergroup contact should be structured to emphasize similarities

Shortcoming – increased liking may not generalize to entire outgroup
Attitude generalization: Salient categorization model:
¡ Positive attitudes generated by contact will generalize to the group only if the outgroup members are seen as typical of
their group.
¡ Requires intergroup contact situation to balance competing processes:
¡ Outgroup members must be seen in non-stereotypical terms
¡ But must also perceived as typical of their group
Common social identity
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Ingroup and outgroup members recategorize themselves into a single group that shares a common identity
¡ Is effective in improving intergroup relations:
¡ Drawbacks/Limitations
Dominant group members might define common ingroup in terms of themselves
Minority group members may resist joining a common identity with the majority group:
¡ May believe that doing so requires them to give up current valued identity
¡ Resistance greater for people who:
¡ Strongly identify with their groups
¡ Feel pressured to join the common identity
¡ Dual identity as possible solution:
¡ Retain valued current identity while taking on higher-order common identity
Common identity may lead to increased bias against common outgroups:
¡ Forming common identity increases salience of those groups
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Three processes not always distinct from one another:
Personalization most likely to be first outcome of intergroup contact
Continued contact can lead to salient recategorization
More continued contact can eventually lead to development of common ingroup identity
¡ Order of these processes can also depend on nature of contact situation
Kite & Whitley (2016)
Alternative Perspectives On Approaches To Prejudice Reduction:
¡ People should ignore racial and ethnic group membership, acting as if these
distinctions do not exist
¡ Has small negative correlation with prejudice
¡ Problems:
¡ Inconsistent with people’s inability to ignore basic social categories
¡ Suppression can have rebound effects
¡ Can desensitize majority-group members to racial bias
¡ Makes majority-group members less willing to mention race:
¡ Based on concerns about appearing to be prejudiced
¡ Reduce majority-group members’ motivation to address issues of inequality
Kite & Whitley (2016)
Alternative Perspectives On Approaches To Prejudice Reduction:

Minority groups should give up their own cultures and replace them with majority
¡ If everyone has the same culture, then group differences and prejudice will disappear
¡ Implies low value of ‘other’ cultures
¡ Positively correlated with prejudice
Kite & Whitley (2016)
Alternative Perspectives On Approaches To Prejudice Reduction:
¡ Holds that race and ethnicity should be given attention rather than ignored
Based on belief that prejudice develops from a lack of knowledge about and respect for other groups
Negatively correlated with prejudice
¡ Shortcomings:
Associated with stronger perceptions of group differences and stereotyping
Can be used as legitimizing myth to justify inequality:
By attributing outcome disparities to “deficiencies” in minority group culture
Can be used as a moral credential to dismiss allegations of prejudice
Kite & Whitley (2016)
Alternative Perspectives On Approaches To Prejudice Reduction:
Holds that there is no such thing as pure culture:
People of all cultures are interconnected by history of mutual interaction and influence
Appreciation for interconnectedness leads to understanding of and respect for all cultures
Compared to multiculturalism:
Similarity: recognizes and celebrates individual cultures
Difference: emphasizes links among cultures rather than differences between them
Has negative correlation with prejudice
Potential shortcomings:
Not all cultural interactions are positive:
Negative experience lead to negative attitudes
Focus on minority cultures might be seen as effort to coopt them and ignore their contributions
Focus on how other cultures have influenced minority culture may be seen as devaluing their culture
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Intergroup attitudes and prejudices may be resistant to change because they:
Symbolic Racism:
David Sears
Are often rooted in values and beliefs important to the person (e.g., Symbolic Racism)
Stigmatized groups
Involve the person’s social and personal identities
represent an abstract or
symbolic threat to
Are reinforced by a social network of family and friends
conservative values (hard
May be masked by seemingly egalitarian behaviors and rational (e.g., Aversive Racism) work, independence)
¡ Maintaining prejudices reinforces dominant group position
Aversive Racism:
Dovidio & Gaertner
Non-prejudice, egalitarian
‘surface’ beliefs, but
unconscious biases that
lead to avoidance of
intergroup interactions and
justifying discrimination
Kite & Whitley (2016)
1. Education (e.g., Dovidio & Gaertner)
2. Inhibiting automatically activated stereotypes
3. Contact
Kite & Whitley (2016)
1. Education (e.g., Dovidio & Gaertner):
Psychoeducational programs aimed at stereotype disconfirmation, knowledge and awareness of groups
Norms that prejudice is wrong
Use of persuasion or attitude change techniques –highlighting behavioral inconsistencies
Avoid subtyping (creating an exception to stereotypes to explain a non-prototypical group member)
Kite & Whitley (2016)
2. Inhibiting automatically activated stereotypes
Stereotype Suppression: Attempt to push unwanted thoughts out of mind and replace them with more acceptable
Technique can be effective while focusing on suppressing the unwanted thought temporarily
Rebound Effects: Enhanced return of suppressed thoughts that follows an attempt to suppress
People who suppress stereotypes later show:

More use of suppressed stereotype
Stereotype comes to mind more easily
Greater desire to avoid member of stereotyped
Better memory for stereotype
Decreased memory for individuating
Greater use of stereotypes in general
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Might not occur if person is low in prejudice
¡ People from collectivist cultures may be less prone to rebound effect:
¡ May have more practice at suppressing unwanted thoughts of all types (Kite & Whitley)
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Priming – to be able to keep unwanted thoughts suppressed, must be aware of those thoughts:
Unwanted thoughts are more readily available when suppression is lifted
¡ Cognitive effort – suppressing stereotype depletes cognitive resources needed to control it
¡ Motivation – suppression of stereotype creates a need to use it
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Self-Regulation Model to address stereotype suppression and rebound effects
Having acted in a prejudiced manner:
Sensitizes people who see themselves as non-prejudiced to cues for unwanted behavior
These cues warn them when they might respond in a prejudiced manner
Warning allows them to avoid prejudiced behavior and act appropriately in the future
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Self Regulation Model
¡ Acting in a prejudiced manner contradicts self-image of people who see themselves as non-prejudiced
¡ Awareness of contradiction is important: People do not always realize their behavior contradicts their beliefs
¡ Awareness of contradiction leads people to ask themselves:
¡ What caused them to act the way they did?
¡ What cues can warn them when they might be about to act in a prejudiced manner?
¡ Can use cues to:
¡ Suppress any prejudiced responses
¡ Choose unprejudiced responses to use instead
Kite & Whitley (2016)
¡ Self-regulation of prejudice can become automatic over time
¡ Example: Negating stereotypes:
¡ Becomes easier with practice
¡ Reduces stereotype activation
¡ Affirming counter-stereotypes has even larger effect
Kite & Whitley (2016)
Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination
Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination provides a comprehensive and compelling overview of what
psychological theory and research have to say about the nature, causes, and reduction of prejudice and
discrimination. It balances a detailed discussion of theories and selected research with applied examples
that ensure the material is relevant to students. Newly revised and updated, this edition addresses several
interlocking themes, such as research methods, the development of prejudice in children, the relationship between prejudice and discrimination, and discrimination in the workplace, which are developed
in greater detail than in other textbooks.
The first theme introduced is the nature of prejudice and discrimination, which is followed by a
discussion of research methods. Next comes the psychological underpinnings of prejudice: the nature of
stereotypes, the conditions under which stereotypes influence responses to other people, contemporary
theories of prejudice, and how values and belief systems are related to prejudice. Explored next are the
development of prejudice in children and the social context of prejudice. The theme of discrimination is
developed via discussions of the nature of discrimination, the experience of discrimination, and specific
forms of discrimination, including gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, and appearance. The concluding theme is the reduction of prejudice.
An ideal core text for junior and senior college students who have had a course in introductory psychology, it is written in a style that is accessible to students in other fields, including education, social
work, business, communication studies, ethnic studies, and other disciplines. In addition to courses
on prejudice and discrimination, this book can be adapted for courses that cover topics in racism and
Mary E. Kite is Professor of Psychological Science at Ball State University. Her research focuses on stereotyping and prejudice toward women, gays, lesbians, and older adults. In 2014, she received the Charles
L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award from the American Psychological Foundation.
Bernard E. Whitley, Jr. is Professor Emeritus of Psychological Science at Ball State University. His research
focus is on the role of ideological variables in prejudice.
Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination is a truly exceptional textbook. Writing in a lucid and engaging style, Mary Kite and Bernard Whitley present relevant theories, research findings, and methods of
investigation. Now in its 3rd edition, this book provides a balanced and intelligent overview of an area
of research that engages a wide range of contemporary social issues.
–Alice Eagly, James Padilla Chair of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Psychology,
Faculty Fellow of Institute for Policy Research, and Professor of
Management & Organizations, Northwestern University, USA
There is no better resource on the social psychology of prejudice for its comprehensiveness and accessibility. My copies of Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination are among the most worn books on my
–PJ Henry, Associate Professor of Psychology, NYU Abu Dhabi, UAE
Few topics are more important in today’s world than understanding prejudice and discrimination. This
book is probably the best I’ve read on the subject. The authors have succeeded in bringing together
the main scientific evidence in a coherent and fruitful manner. By reading Psychology of Prejudice and
Discrimination, students young and old will immediately connect with all the important theories and
–Serge Guimond, Professor of Psychology and Research Director, Laboratoire
CNRS de Psychologie Sociale et Cognitive (LAPSCO),
Université Blaise Pascal, France
This is a comprehensive and engaging text for students in psychology and other disciplines who are
interested in understanding the roots and consequences of prejudice and discrimination, and how we
might go about combatting them. The authors strike a perfect balance between theory and application,
with salient, up-to-date examples. It is altogether an informative and enjoyable read.
–Victoria M. Esses, Professor of Psychology, University of Western Ontario; Director,
Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations; Principal Investigator,
Pathways to Prosperity Partnership, Canada
This excellent book provides both an integrative overview and plenty of historical and contemporary
evidence for every sphere of prejudice and discrimination. It offers a comprehensive grounding in the
area as a whole, together with detailed reviews and summaries of the latest thinking in each area of
prejudice—a book to keep by my desk that my students and I will consult regularly.
–Dominic Abrams, Professor of Social Psychology and Director of the
Centre for the Study of Group Processes, University of Kent, UK
Kite and Whitley are the perfect duo to write an accessible and well-grounded text on the psychology of
prejudice and discrimination because they are accomplished experts on the topic and outstanding teachers and scholars. A must-read for anyone interested in reducing prejudice and discrimination (which
should be all of us).
–Janice D. Yoder, Research Professor, College of Public Health, Kent State University, USA
This is an admirably comprehensive text that would be an excellent choice for an undergraduate course
in the social psychology of prejudice and discrimination. It is clearly written and well-illustrated with
examples and cases, and has excellent instructor resources.
–John Duckitt, Professor of Social Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand
It is a great pleasure to see an updated 3rd edition of Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination! That the
text covers so much and is engaging, readable, and memorable for students makes this the standard
against which others must be judged. The attention to research findings and research methods makes
this both an advanced text and a text that will result in advanced students. This is a likeable book, clear,
precise, broad in coverage, and wise in its conclusions.
–Chris Crandall, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, USA
This Page is Intentionally Left Blank
Psychology of Prejudice
and Discrimination
Third Edition
Mary E. Kite
Bernard E. Whitley, Jr.
Third edition published 2016
by Routledge
711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
and by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
© 2016 Taylor & Francis
The right of Mary E. Kite and Bernard E. Whitley, Jr. to be identified as authors of this
work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in
any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter
invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or
retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks,
and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe.
First edition published by Wadsworth 2005
Second edition published by Wadsworth 2009
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Names: Whitley, Bernard E., author. | Kite, Mary E., author.
Title: Psychology of prejudice and discrimination / by Mary E. Kite and Bernard E.
Whitley, Jr.
Description: 3rd edition. | New York, NY : Routledge, 2016. | Includes bibliographical
references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2015044954| ISBN 9781138947528 (hb : alk. paper) |
ISBN 9781138947542 (pb : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781315623849 (ebk : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Prejudices. | Discrimination. | Stereotypes (Social psychology)
Classification: LCC BF575.P9 W558 2016 | DDC 303.3/85—dc23
LC record available at
ISBN: 978-1-138-94752-8 (hbk)
ISBN: 978-1-138-94754-2 (pbk)
ISBN: 978-1-315-62384-9 (ebk)
Typeset in Stone Serif
by Swales & Willis Ltd, Exeter, Devon, UK
I ntroducing the Concepts of Stereotyping, Prejudice, and
Discrimination 1
How Psychologists Study Prejudice and Discrimination 46
Social Categorization and Stereotypes 86
Stereotype Activation and Application 126
Old-Fashioned and Contemporary Forms of Prejudice 169
Individual Differences and Prejudice 212
The Development of Prejudice in Children 261
The Social Context of Prejudice 302
From Prejudice to Discrimination 343
The Experience of Discrimination 392
Gender and Sexual Orientation 440
Age, Ability, and Appearance 483
Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination 527
Glossary 579
Name Index
Subject Index
This Page is Intentionally Left Blank
I ntroducing the Concepts of Stereotyping, Prejudice, and
Discrimination 1
Race and Culture
Historical Views of Ethnic Groups
Cultural Influences on Perceptions of Race and Ethnicity
Group Privilege
Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination 12
Interpersonal Discrimination
Organizational Discrimination
Institutional Discrimination 19
Cultural Discrimination 21
The Relationships Among Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination 23
Targets of Prejudice
Racism 25
Gender and Sexual Orientation
Age, Ability, and Appearance
Classism 30
Theories of Prejudice and Discrimination 31
Scientific Racism
Psychodynamic Theory 34
Sociocultural Theory
Intergroup Relations Theory
Cognitive Theory
Evolutionary Theory
Where Do We Go From Here? 40
Suggested Readings 42
Key Terms 43
Questions for Review and Discussion 43
How Psychologists Study Prejudice and Discrimination
Formulating Hypotheses 47
Measuring Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination 49
Reliability and Validity
Self-Report Measures
Assessing Stereotypes
Assessing Prejudice 52
Assessing Behavior 52
Advantages and Limitations 53
Unobtrusive Measures 53
Physiological Measures
Implicit Cognition Measures
Self-Report Versus Physiological and Implicit Cognition Measures 60
Using Multiple Measures
Research Strategies 62
Correlational Studies
Survey Research
The Correlation Coefficient
Correlation and Causality
Experiments 67
Experimentation and Causality
Laboratory Experiments 70
Field Experiments 70
Individual Difference Variables Within Experiments 71
Ethnographic Studies 72
Content Analysis
Using Multiple Research Strategies
Drawing Conclusions 76
Were the Hypotheses Supported?
What Do the Data Mean? 76
Verifying Results
Theory and Application 78
Suggested Readings 82
Key Terms 83
Questions for Review and Discussion 83
Social Categorization and Stereotypes
Social Categorization
Why We Categorize
Types of Categorization
Basic Social Categories
Factors That Affect Categorization 93
Situational Influences
Level of Prejudice 97
Consequences of Categorization 98
Ingroups and Outgroups
Ingroup Overexclusion
Origins of Stereotypes 100
The Outgroup Homogeneity Effect
Reasons for the Outgroup Homogeneity Effect
The Cross-Racial Identification Bias 102
The Ultimate Attribution Error
Social Role Theory 105
Illusory Correlations
Transmission of Stereotypic Beliefs 109
The Media
Language and Stereotype Transmission
Linguistic Intergroup Bias
Stereotype Communication
Stereotype Accuracy 117
Defining Accuracy
The Risks of Assuming Accuracy
Summary 121
Suggested Reading 122
Key Terms 123
Questions for Review and Discussion 124
Stereotype Activation and Application
Stereotype Activation 128
Automatic Activation
Situational Context 133
Prejudice 134
Cognitive Busyness 135
Motivated Activation 136
Self-Enhancement 137
Social Adjustment 138
Motivation to Control Prejudice 139
Stereotype Relevance 139
The Activated Stereotype 140
Stereotype Application 140
Motivation to Inhibit Stereotyping
Motivation to Control Prejudice
Comprehension Goals
Cognitive Style
Self-Protection and Self-Enhancement Goals 145
Social Power 146
Ability to Inhibit Stereotyping 147
Consequences of Stereotype Use 150
Biased Interpretation of Behavior
Biased Evaluation
Cultural Artifacts
Stereotype Maintenance and Change 155
Lay Theories of Personality
Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
Models of Stereotype Change
Functions of Stereotypes
Ego-Defensive Function
Social Adjustment Function 160
The Five Ds of Difference 161
Summary 163
Suggested Readings 165
Key Terms 166
Questions for Review and Discussion 166
Old-Fashioned and Contemporary Forms of Prejudice
The Transformation of Prejudice
Prejudice Continues. . .
. . . But Only Bad People Are Prejudiced. . .
. . . So “They” Should Stop Complaining
Theories of Contemporary Prejudice
Implicit Prejudice 177
Modern-Symbolic Prejudice 179
Characteristics of Modern-Symbolic Prejudice
Psychological Bases of Modern-Symbolic Prejudice 183
Modern-Symbolic Prejudice and Behavior
Concluding Comments
Aversive Prejudice 186
Characteristics of Aversive Prejudice
Psychological Bases of Aversive Prejudice
Research on Aversive Prejudice
Aversive Prejudice and Behavior
Avoidance of Intergroup Contact
Overly Positive Intergroup Behavior
Pro-White Bias 193
Anti-Minority Discrimination 194
Derogation of Higher-Status Minority Group Members 195
Ambivalent Prejudice 196
Ambivalent Attitudes
Psychological Conflict
Response Amplification
The Problem of Benevolent Prejudice
Putting the Theories Together 204
Suggested Readings 208
Key Terms 209
Questions for Review and Discussion 209
Individual Differences and Prejudice
Personal Values 213
Value Orientations
Individualism 213
Perceived Value Differences 215
The Attribution-Value Model
Terror Management Theory 218
Religion 222
Religious Involvement
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Religious Orientation 224
Quest Orientation 225
Religious Fundamentalism 227
Social Ideologies 228
The Authoritarian Personality
Right-Wing Authoritarianism 229
Social Dominance Orientation 231
Social Dominance Orientation and Prejudice
Social Dominance Orientation and Authoritarianism 235
Political Orientation 236
Right-Wing Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Orientation
Personal Values 237
Value Conflicts and Bipartisan Prejudice
Emotions 239
Emotions and Stereotyping
Emotions and Prejudice
From Stereotypes to Emotions
From Emotions to Behavior
Individual Differences in Emotions 248
Intergroup Anxiety 249
Empathy 252
Suggested Readings 256
Key Terms 258
Questions for Review and Discussion 258
The Development of Prejudice in Children
Awareness of Social Categories
Implicit Awareness of Social Categories
Explicit Awareness of Social Categories
Patterns of Prejudice Development 268
Racial/Ethnic Prejudice
Majority-Group Children’s Attitudes
Minority-Group Children’s Attitudes 269
Intergroup Behavior
Gender Prejudice 274
Young Children’s Attitudes
Older Children’s Attitudes 275
Intergroup Behavior 276
Sexual Orientation Prejudice 277
Processes of Prejudice Development 279
Genetic Influences
Cognitive Development
Social Learning
Parental Influence
Peer Influence
Media Influence 287
Developmental Intergroup Theory 287
Developing Category Rules
Development of Stereotypes and Prejudices 289
The Drop-Off in Prejudice
So Where Does Prejudice Come From? 290
Reducing Children’s Prejudice 291
School Desegregation
Desegregation Versus Integration
Long-Term Versus Short-Term Effects
Cooperative Learning 294
Educational Interventions
Summary 296
Suggested Readings 298
Key Terms 299
Questions for Review and Discussion 300
The Social Context of Prejudice
Social Identity Theory
Social Identity and Intergroup Bias
The Categorization-Competition Hypothesis
The Self-Esteem Hypothesis 304
Factors That Influence Social Identity 305
Optimal Distinctiveness 307
Threat to the Group 307
Chronic Social Identities
Individual Differences
Issues in Social Identity Theory 309
Ingroup Favoritism Versus Outgroup Derogation
Social Identity and Intergroup Tolerance
National Identity
Looking Back at Social Identity Theory 311
Relative Deprivation Theory 312
Relative Deprivation, Dissatisfaction, and Resentment 313
Relative Deprivation and Prejudice
Relative Gratification
Realistic Conflict Theory 317
The Work of Muzafer Sherif
Contemporary Views of Intergroup Competition
Situational Antecedents
Ideological Antecedents 321
Psychological Effects
Intergroup Consequences 322
Integrated Threat Theory 323
Hate Group Membership 325
Why People Join Hate Groups
Racial Attitudes
A Search for Answers 327
Myths Concerning Hate Group Members 330
Recruiting Hate Group Members 331
Group Socialization
The Socialization Process
The Outcomes of Socialization 334
Leaving the Group 335
Disenchantment With the Group
Relationships Outside the Group 336
Summary 337
Suggested Readings 338
Key Terms 340
Questions for Review and Discussion 340
From Prejudice to Discrimination
What Is Discrimination?
Blatant Discrimination
Subtle Discrimination
Covert Discrimination 349
Interpersonal Discrimination 350
The Relation Between Prejudice and Discrimination
Personal Stereotypes
Attitude–Behavior Correspondence 351
Perceived Social Support
Motivation to Control Prejudice 352
Internal and External Motivation
Restraint Motivation
The Development of Motivation to Control Prejudice
Social Norms 354
Losing Control: Regressive Prejudice 355
Controllability of Behavior
Executive Function 356
Moral Credentials 360
Reactions to Having Acted in a Prejudiced Manner 361
Discrimination in the Workplace 363
Organizational Research
Performance Evaluation and Promotion 366
Individuals in the Workplace 368
Stereotype Fit
Shifting Standards
Contemporary Prejudice 372
Conformity to Perceived Norms 375
Hate Crimes 376
Hate Crime Offenders
Motivations for Hate Crimes 378
Intergroup Attitudes
Thrill Seeking
Ingroup Defense 380
Peer Group Dynamics 381
Effects on Victims 383
Summary 384
Suggested Readings 387
Key Terms 388
Questions for Review and Discussion 389
The Experience of Discrimination
Social Stigma
What Defines a Stigmatized Group?
Aesthetic Qualities 395
Danger 396
Stigma by Association 396
Responses to Prejudice and Discrimination 402
Personal/Group Discrimination Discrepancy
Cognitive Explanations
Motivational Explanations 404
The Costs and Benefits of Claiming Discrimination 405
Recognizing Discrimination
Willingness to Confront Discrimination 406
The Social Costs of Claiming Discrimination 408
Claims of Discrimination by Ingroup Members 409
Strategies for Confronting Discrimination 410
Consequences of Prejudice for the Target 410
Stereotype Threat 411
Key Features of Stereotype Threat
Individual Differences 415
Psychological Processes Affecting Stereotype Threat 416
Reducing Stereotype Threat 418
Stereotype Lift 420
Vulnerability to Stress 422
Minority Stress Model
Indirect Effects of Minority Stress 424
Threats to Self-Esteem 427
Coping With Discrimination 430
Psychological Disengagement and Disidentification
Behavioral Compensation 432
Summary 433
Suggested Readings 435
Key Terms 437
Questions for Review and Discussion 437
Gender and Sexual Orientation
Gender-Based Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination 441
Gender Stereotypes
How Widespread Are Gender-Stereotypic Beliefs?
Accuracy of Gender-Associated Beliefs 447
Change Over Time 447
Attitudes Toward Women and Men 448
Subtypes of Women and Men
Attitudes Toward Women’s Rights and Responsibilities 453
Hostile and Benevolent Sexism 454
Women in the Workplace 455
Role Congruity Theory
Women in Faculty Roles 458
Consequences for Girls’ and Women’s Career Choices 458
The Male Gender Role 460
Heterosexism and Sexual Prejudice 462
Stereotypes of Lesbians and Gay Men
Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men 465
Gender Differences in Anti-Gay Prejudice
Attitudes Toward Bisexual Men and Women 468
Heterosexism in the Workplace 469
Coming Out
Prejudice Against Transgender People
Summary 476
Suggested Readings 478
Key Terms 479
Questions for Review and Discussion 479
Age, Ability, and Appearance
Ageism 484
When Does Old Age Begin?
Beliefs about Older Adults
The Forgetfulness Stereotype
Fear of Death and Dying
Subtypes of Older Adults 489
The Double Standard of Aging 489
Age-Based Discrimination 492
Media Portrayals of Older Adults
Workplace Discrimination
Communication With Older Adults 495
Health Care for Older Adults 497
The Effects of Self-Stereotyping 498
Ability 499
Defining Disability
The Stigma of Disability 503
Attitudes Toward PWDs
Employment Discrimination 504
Anxiety About Interacting With PWDs 505
Communication Between PWDs and the Nondisabled 506
Mental Illness 507
Perceived Controllability and Dangerousness
The Experience of Mental Illness Discrimination 508
Consequences of Mental Health Stigma 509
Appearance 510
Physical Attractiveness
Gender, Age, and Physical Appearance
The Benefits to Being Physically Attractive 513
Height 513
Why Is Anti-Fat Prejudice Acceptable?
The Social Consequences of Anti-Fat Prejudice 518
Summary 521
Suggested Readings 523
Key Terms 524
Questions for Review and Discussion 524
Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination
Individual Level Processes 528
Stereotype Suppression
Stereotype Rebound
Why Do Stereotypes Rebound? 530
Is Stereotype Rebound Inevitable?
Self-Regulation 531
Developing Cues for Controlling Prejudice
Using Cues to Control Prejudice 533
Automatic Control of Prejudice 535
Self-Regulation in Action
Intergroup Contact Theory 536
Conditions for Success
Equal Status
Cooperation 539
Acquaintance Potential 540
Institutional Support
Effectiveness of Intergroup Contact 541
Types of Changes Produced
Limiting Factors 543
Indirect Contact 544
Extended Contact
Imagined Contact
Media Contact 546
From Personalization to Common Social Identity 548
Attitude Generalization
Common Social Identity
Other Aspects of the Model 553
Workplace Interventions 555
Affirmative Action
Valuing Diversity
Managing Diversity
Racial Color-Blindness and Its Alternatives 561
The Color-Blind Perspective
The Assimilationist Perspective
The Multicultural Perspective
The Polycultural Perspective
Comparing the Perspectives
What You Can Do to Reduce Prejudice 567
Influencing Your Own Attitudes
Reflect on Your Thoughts and Behavior 567
Put Intergroup Contact Theory Into Practice 569
Influencing Other People’s Attitudes 570
Help People Become Aware of Their Attitudes and Behaviour
Encourage Intergroup Contact
Help others Become Better Informed 571
Be a Role Model for Your Children or Younger Siblings 571
Envoi 571
Summary 571
Suggested Readings 575
Key Terms 576
Questions for Review and Discussion 576
Glossary 579
Name Index
Subject index
Throughout our academic careers, we have had a keen interest in the study of stereotyping and prejudice.
It seemed natural, then, that we should teach our department’s course on prejudice and discrimination.
When we set out to do so for the first time, however, we ran into a surprise: Although there is a vast
literature on the topic, there were very few textbooks. In addition, we found that none of those books
struck the balance between empirical rigor and readability that we were looking for. Therefore, as so
many before us have done, we decided to write our own book; the result is before you. Our goal in writing this book is to provide students with an overview of what psychological theory and research have
to say about the nature, causes, and amelioration of prejudice and discrimination. As a result, the book
includes somewhat more detailed discussions of theories and selected research studies than do most
other textbooks on the topic. At the same time, we have tried to keep our presentation at a level that is
accessible to students whose only previous exposure to psychological theory and research has been in an
introductory-level course. Feedback from our reviewers and from students in our courses suggests that
we have achieved that aim.
Although our book covers the standard topics included in textbooks on prejudice, we also set the goal
of covering what we thought were important topics that are not included in most other textbooks on
this topic. Thus, because of our emphasis on theory and research, we have included a chapter on the
research methods psychologists use to study prejudice and discrimination and how research methodology influences the conclusions drawn about the issues studied. Similarly, we believe it is important to
address how prejudice develops in children; therefore, we have included a chapter on that topic. Finally,
because psychologists have long understood that attitudes are poor predictors of behavior, we included a
chapter that discusses the nature of discrimination and its relation to prejudice. Other topics distinctive
to our book include hate group membership, hate crime perpetrators, and prejudice and discrimination
in organizations.
Although we have not formally divided the book into parts, the sequence of the chapters represents a
progression across several themes. First, we introduce the nature of prejudice and discrimination (including a brief history of research on the topic), followed by our chapter on research methods. The next several
chapters address the psychological underpinnings of prejudice: the nature of stereotypes; the conditions
under which stereotypes influence responses to other people; contemporary theories of prejudice; individual difference variables related to prejudice, such as values and emotions; the development of prejudice
in children; and the social context of prejudice. The following two chapters focus on the nature of discrimination and its effects on those who experience it. Two chapters examine specific forms of prejudice
and discrimination: Chapter 11 covers gender and sexual orientation and Chapter 12 covers age, ability,
and appearance. We conclude with a chapter on prejudice reduction. We realize that every instructor has
her or his own outline for how a course should be organized, so we have tried to make each chapter as
independent of the others as possible to allow instructors to assign them in the order that best fits their
personal goals for the course.
We have written the book for use by junior and senior college students who have had a course in
introductory psychology. Although the book takes a psychological approach to the issues of prejudice and
discrimination, we have intentionally written in a style that is accessible to students in other fields as well.
We did so because we believe that an important educational goal for all students is the understanding of
prejudice and discrimination and the processes by which they operate. Therefore, the book is appropriate
for courses in psychology but also for courses in areas such as education, social work, business, communication studies, ethnic studies, and other disciplines. Also, in addition to courses on prejudice and
discrimination, the book could be used in courses that cover topics such as racism and diversity.
The research and theoretical literatures on prejudice and discrimination have advanced dramatically even
in the few years that have passed since the second edition of this book was published. Those advances
have led us to make revisions throughout the book; however, to keep the book a manageable size, we
have also reorganized and trimmed material throughout. For example, we integrated the material that was
formerly in the motivation and emotions chapter into the chapters on individual differences (which now
includes emotions) and discrimination (which now includes motivation to control prejudice). We have
also made other minor adjustments in the placement of material; for example, by consolidating some of
the information in the chapters on stereotyping to reduce redundancy and by moving information on
reducing prejudice in children to the chapter on children. We have also incorporated new research on
all the topics covered in the book, adding at least ten new references per chapter. Although most of the
research on this topic is conducted in North America and Western Europe, we have redoubled our efforts
to include research on international populations and research that addresses the cross-cultural implications of prejudice and discrimination. We also include material on topics that have recently been brought
to the forefront, such as anti-immigrant discrimination, privilege and equality framing, microaggressions,
and transgender issues. Overall, the number of pages remains about the same as previous editions.
As in the earlier editions, each chapter begins with a brief outline to provide students with a cognitive map
of its contents, and ends with a summary to provide closure. Within each chapter, key terms are shown
in bold face; these terms are included in the glossary. Each chapter also includes boxes that provide supplemental information, additional examples, or other perspectives on issues. A set of questions concludes
xxviii   PREFACE
each chapter. Each set includes factual review questions, designed to integrate topics within the chapter;
reflective questions, designed to encourage students to think about how the chapter’s contents are relevant
to their lives; and more philosophical questions designed to highlight controversies and help students
clarify their positions on those issues. Each chapter also has a set of suggested readings that delve further
into the topics covered in the chapter.
To assist instructors in course development, we have written an Instructor’s Manual (available on
our book’s website) that provides a list of resources, including websites and handbooks of course-related
activities. For each individual chapter, we provide suggested classroom activities and assignments. We
also have created a test bank that includes at least 50 multiple-choice questions for each chapter and
have provided at least 20 short-answer/essay questions for each chapter. Please contact your local Taylor
& Francis representative to obtain access to the electronic Instructor’s Manual and Test Bank.
We welcome any suggestions you have for improving this book. Please send electronic mail to Mary
Kite at or Bernard Whitley at
We are indebted to our editor, Paul Dukes, and his assistant, Xian Gu, for guiding us through the third
edition. We also want to acknowledge Michele Sordi, our former editor at Wadsworth, who saw the promise of the first edition and provided invaluable feedback on our earlier work. We also thank Ball State
University, which granted Mary Kite a year’s sabbatical leave to work on the new edition, and the staff
of Bracken Library at Ball State University, whose expert assistance advanced our research immeasurably.
We are grateful to Kelly Barnes, University of Western Ontario, who ably created the PowerPoint slides
for the chapters and thank Elizabeth Tobin for updating the Instructor’s Resources. We were delighted
that our friend and former colleague, Ann Fischer, granted permission to use her photograph on the
book cover.
A number of people were kind enough to read draft chapters and suggest improvement on the
first and second editions, including: Jonathan Amsbary, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Bettina
Cassad, University of Missouri-St. Louis; Patricia Cutspec, East Tennessee State University; Jennifer Dale,
Community College Aurora; Michael Demson, SUNY Broome Community College; Paula Haug, Folsom
Lake College; Gina Hoover, Ohio State University; Michael Hulsizer, Webster University; Jonathan
Iuzzini, Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Alisha Janowsky, University of Central Florida; Deana Julka,
University of Portland; Butch Owens, Navarro College; Gayle Pesavento, John A. Logan College; Valerie
Roberts, College of the Siskiyous; Diana Sims, Brown College; Aaron Wichman, Western Kentucky
University; and William Wooten, University of Central Florida.
We also thank the reviewers of the third edition, including James A. Bany, Loyola Marymount
University; Bruce Bartholow, University of Missouri; Gira Bhatt, Kwantlen Polytechnic University; Peter
Branney, Leeds Beckett University; Matthew Chin, University of Central Florida; Russ Espinoza, California
State University-Fullerton; Paul B. Hutchings, University of Wales Trinity St. David; Kimberly MacLin,
University of Northern Iowa; Hoi Wah Mak, City University of Hong Kong; Rhiannon Turner, Queen’s
University Belfast; James M. Weyant, University of San Diego; and two anonymous reviewers. We also
thank our current and former graduate students for their helpful comments on the chapters: Hannah
Ballas, Kinsey Bryant-Lees, Kim Buxton, Olyvia Kuchta, Prabin Subedi, and Shawnna Walser. Finally,
we sincerely thank the production staff at Taylor & Francis and Rachel Singleton and Liz Williams at
Swales & Willis, both for putting the book into its final form and for their help and patience during the
production process.
This Page is Intentionally Left Blank
C H A P T E R    1
Introducing the Concepts of Stereotyping,
Prejudice, and Discrimination
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We
hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
—Martin Luther King Jr. (August 28, 1963)
•• Race and Culture
•• Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination
•• The Relationships Among Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
•• Theories of Prejudice and Discrimination
•• Where Do We Go From Here?
•• Summary
•• Suggested Readings
•• Key Terms
•• Questions for Review and Discussion
ooking back over the more than 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his classic “I
Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it is easy to see the extent to
which race relations have improved in the United States. The Jim Crow laws that limited the rights
of minority groups have been dismantled and overt racial segregation, such as in restaurants and
on public transportation, is a thing of the past, and today, it is difficult to believe there was a time
when White lynching of Blacks took place without serious investigation, let alone punishment. Yet,
in this new millennium, vivid examples demonstrate that Martin Luther King’s dream has not been
fully realized.
Evidence that racial tensions persist in the United States are illustrated by what has come to be
called the “Jena 6” case. The case began with a question asked at a school assembly at Jena High School
in Louisiana: Could Black students sit under an oak tree then known as the “white tree” (Coll, 2007)?
The principal said yes but, showing stark disagreement, White students hung nooses from the tree’s
branches. To them, the tree was, indeed, off limits to Blacks. The school board deemed hanging nooses
“a prank” and suspended the White students from school; no criminal charges were brought. Months
2   Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
of high emotions led to a series of fights between Black and White students. At least one incident led
to battery charges against a White youth who beat a Black youth at a party; the White student received
probation. The violence culminated with six Black students assaulting a White student to the point of
his being knocked unconscious (Witt, 2007). Within hours, all six Blacks were charged with attempted
murder—a felony. To many, the authorities’ responses to the separate incidents represented typical racebased inequities, a belief supported by national data. In Box 1.1, we describe social science research on
these inequities and discuss recent protests held in response to them.
Following the charges against the “Jena 6” Black students, thousands of people participated in protests across the United States to express their outrage over this inequity in the administration of justice.
A few people, apparently supporting the Whites’ “right” to segregate “their” tree, carried out a spate of
copy-cat incidents, many involving nooses being left at schools and workplaces (Duster, 2007). From a
psychological perspective, this case provides one of many possible illustrations of how racial and ethnic
tensions can result in bias against stigmatized groups, not only in the United States but in any part of
the world. As a first step toward understanding those psychological processes, we provide an overview of
the intersection between race and culture, including a discussion of group privilege. We then review the
terminology used in the study of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination and distinguish between
several “isms,” such as racism, classism, and heterosexism. In the next section of the chapter, we examine
the history of research on prejudice and discrimination and consider the theoretical frameworks that
guide researchers. The chapter concludes with an overview of the rest of the book.
Box 1.1
Responding to Racial Injustice: Black Lives Matter
On May 4, 1970, four students engaged in a nonviolent protest against the war in Vietnam
were killed by National Guardsmen on the campus of Kent State University. Ten days later,
police killed two students and wounded 12 others on another college campus. The first event is
well known, as is the iconic photograph of a woman leaning over the body of a fellow student
moments after he had been shot. The second event, which occurred on the campus of Jackson
State University, received far less media coverage and far fewer people today have heard of that
event. Why? Was it because Jackson State was and is a predominantly Black university, whereas
Kent State was and is predominantly White (Banks, 2015)? Although this question is difficult
to answer, it is certain that recent events surrounding the deaths of young Black men at the
hands of the police have not gone unnoticed. As Leonard Pitts (2015), a columnist for the Miami
Herald, noted:
It has reached a point where you can’t keep the atrocities straight without a score card. Besides
[Freddie] Gray [a 25-year-old African American man who suffered fatal injuries while in police custody], we’ve got Eric Harris, an unarmed black man shot in Tulsa, who cried that he was losing his
breath . . . We’ve got Levar Jones, a black man shot by a state trooper in South Carolina while complying with the trooper’s commands. We’ve got Oscar Grant [fatally shot by police on the Bay Area
Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination   3
Transit System in San Francisco], Sean Bell [who, along with two friends who were wounded but did
not die, was shot 50 times by police in Queens, New York], Eric Garner [who died from a chokehold
administered by four New York City police]. We’ve got video of a black man named Walter Scott,
wanted for a traffic violation and back child support, running from a police officer and being shot
to death. We’ve got video of a white man named Michael Wilcox, wanted for murder, running
toward a police officer, threatening him, daring him to shoot, refusing to remove his hands from
his pockets, yet somehow not being shot.
These events and others, including the August 9, 2014, shooting of Michael Brown, an African
American man, by a White police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, have led to nationwide protests and
to the Black Lives Matter movement, which addresses what its organizers see as police brutality
against African Americans in the United States. Journalist Jay Kang (2015) calls it “the most formidable American protest movement of the 21st century to date,” stating that the movement marries:
the strengths of social media—the swift, morally blunt consensus that can be created by hashtags;
the personal connection that a charismatic online persona can make with followers; the broad networks that allow for the easy distribution of documentary photos and videos—with an effort to
quickly mobilize protests in each new city where a police shooting occurs.
(para. 7)
Social science research clearly documents that African Americans perceive a high level of injustice in their interactions with police. For example, Black drivers (67 percent) are less likely than
White drivers (84 percent) to report that there was a legitimate reason for their being pulled
over (Langton & Durose, 2013). Moreover, when asked about their general experiences with the
police, African Americans report greater feelings of threat than Whites do (Najdowski, Bottoms,
& Goff, 2015, Study 1) and when asked to imagine they were in a specific situation where a police
officer was carefully watching them, Black men were more likely than White men to anticipate
being anxious and to expect that the officer would accuse them of wrongdoing (Najdowski et al.,
2015, Study 2). These feelings may be justified: Researchers also have uncovered clear evidence of
racial disparities in law enforcement. For example, Blacks comprise about 13 percent of the U.S.
population, but account for 38 percent of arrests for violent crime and 35 percent of arrests for
drug violations (Newman, 2007). In addition, punishments are harsher for Blacks than for Whites
and a higher percentage of the African American population is in jail (Free, 2002).
However, as Phillip Goff and Kimberly Kahn (2012) note, answering the question of whether
these disparities stem from police discrimination is surprisingly difficult given the available data.
That is, racial disparities in the criminal justice system may be due to police officer bias, but may
also emerge because other social factors disproportionately affect minorities, such as high unemployment rates and a lack of affordable housing. People who experience these inequalities may
see criminal activity as the only way to get the money they need for food and shelter. Hence, “it
4   Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
would be naïve to imagine that officers and departmental policies play no role in the creation
of racial disparities [but these inequities may also be] a symptom of racial discrimination in other
domains” (Goff & Kahn, 2012, p. 184). The good news is research is under way that attempts to
distinguish between these two possibilities.
As we will discuss in Chapters 3 and 4, there is strong evidence that cultural stereotypes, including
beliefs linking Blacks to criminality, result in both conscious and unconscious bias against Black men
(Najdowski, 2014). The Black Lives Matter movement has ignited a national conversation about these
issues and this conversation has been and will continue to be informed by social science research on
the oppression of ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system.
Psychological research shows that race, gender, and age are primary categories for organizing information about other people and that these characteristics are likely to be the first pieces of information
people notice about others (Schneider, 2004). People do this automatically (that is, without thinking
about it) and often subsequently make assumptions on the basis of that quick reading. Historian Ronald
Takaki (1993) provides one story of how this process works, writing:
I had flown from San Francisco to Norfolk [Virginia] and was riding in a taxi to my hotel . . . The rearview
mirror reflected [the driver,] a white man in his forties. “How long have you been in this country?” he
asked. “All my life,” I replied, wincing. “I was born in the United States.” . . . He remarked, “I was wondering because your English is excellent!” Then, as I had many times before, I explained: “My grandfather
came here from Japan in the 1880s. My family has been here, in America, for over a hundre­d years.”
He glanced at me in the mirror. Somehow I did not look “American” to him; my eyes and complexion
looked foreign.
(p. 1)
Takaki’s experience illustrates how our snap judgments can lead to stereotypic assumptions. However,
as discussed in Chapters 3 and 4, people can and do think past such initial stereotypic judgments under
some circumstances. Unfortunately, this does not always happen; consequently, prejudice and discrimination based solely on group membership are alive and well:
In 1988, in Indianapolis [Indiana], state authorities established a residential treatment center for
convicted child molesters in an all-white neighborhood. From the center’s opening until mid-1991—a
period during which all of the residents of the center were white—neighbors voiced no objection.
In June, 1991, however, authorities converted the center into a shelter for approximately forty
homeless veterans, twenty-five of whom were black. Soon thereafter trouble erupted as a group of
Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination   5
whites . . . loudly proclaimed their opposition to the encroachment of “niggers” and burned a cross
and vandalized a car to express their feelings. An all-white cadre of child molesters was evidently
acceptable [in the neighborhood], but the presence of blacks made a racially integrated group of
homeless veterans intolerable!
(Kennedy, 2002, p. 27; emphasis in original)
Clearly, in some situations at least, people view others through the lens of race, gender, and age;
doing so affects their beliefs about and actions toward others. As we will see in this book, the more
relevant question may not be whether people are prejudiced but whether and under what circumstances people try to override their prejudices and, instead, step back to measure each person as an
Historical Views of Ethnic Groups
Historical events, both recent and more distant, demonstrate how quickly views of other social groups
can change. Although, in the United States, attitudes toward Middle Easterners were not necessarily positive prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, negative reactions toward individuals from those
countries definitely increased after that terrible day. Human Rights Watch (2002), for example, reported
a tenfold increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes and dramatic increases in violence against
mosques after 9/11. Moreover, the Gallup Organization (2002) reported that the majority of Americans
polled agreed there are too many immigrants from Arab countries in the United States and 60 percent of
respondents favored reducing the number of Arabs granted admission.
Looking further back to the early 1900s, when the immigration of Irish and Italians reached its high
point in the United States, evidence abounds that members of those ethnic groups were the targets of
ridicule. Remnants of those strongly held beliefs remain: Most people today can still readily identify the
ethnic stereotypes associated with these groups (Krueger, 1996; Terracciano et al., 2005). These days,
however, individuals of Western European descent who reside in the United States generally do not find
that their ethnic background significantly disadvantages them.
A century ago, the Irish were considered non-White in the United States (Ignatiev, 1995). How could
that be? If, as most people believe, race and ethnicity are biological categories, marked by differences in
skin color, it is not logical that the definitions of who fits a category would change. In fact, there are very
few true biological distinctions between what scientists define as racial groups, as explained in Box 1.2.
Moreover, the categories “White” and “non-White” shift with social conventions that, themselves,
change over time. Lillian Rubin (1998), writing about the errors in historical memory of immigration in
the United States, noted that:
being white didn’t make “a big difference” for many [early] immigrants. The dark-skinned Italians and
the eastern European Jews who came in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries didn’t look very
white to the fair-skinned Americans who were here then. Indeed, the same people [Americans] now call
white—Italians, Jews, Irish—were seen as another race at that time.
(p. 93)
6   Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Box 1.2
What Is a “Race”?
Morning (2011) defines race as “a system for classifying human beings that is grounded in the
belief that they embody inherited and fixed biological characteristics that identify them as members of racial groups” (p. 21) and, as we will see throughout this book, psychological research
shows that people use visible cues such as skin color and facial features to categorize themselves
and others into groups. Morning also notes that the contexts in which people are asked to report
their race are many, including medical visits, applying for college or jobs, or getting a marriage
license. If you ask people how they know what race a person is, they will usually tell you that the
determining factor is skin color. But why skin color rather than some other physical characteristic,
such as hair color or eye color? One answer is provided by anthropologist Audrey Smedley and
psychologist Brian Smedley (2011) in their book Race in North America.
Smedley and Smedley (2011) note that the word “race” was not used in English to refer to groups of
people until the 1600s and, at that time, the meaning was very broad, referring to any group of people
with common characteristics. For example, one writer referred to “a race of bishops.” The meaning of
the word race slowly narrowed until, in the late 1700s, it took on its present meaning to indicate groups
of people sharing common physical characteristics, especially skin color. This narrowing of meaning took
place at the same time as Europeans were beginning to colonize and dominate Africa, Asia, and the
Americas, areas whose native inhabitants differed in skin color from Europeans. Over time, racial categories based on skin color became a means of differentiating “superior” Europeans from “inferior” others.
These categories then became the focus of stereotypes “proving” the inferiority of non-Europeans and
justifying European dominance and race laws limiting the freedom of non-Europeans.
It is important to bear in mind that race is a social category, not a biological one. For example,
genetic studies find more differences within traditionally defined racial groups than between them
(Zuckerman, 1990). People notice visible differences between groups, such as skin color or the thickness of the nose and lips, but such differences are superficial and do not, in fact, represent reliable
ways of distinguishing between groups of people. In statistical terms, the differences that do exist
between groups defined as races are trivial relative to the genetic factors, such as blood group,
serum proteins, and enzymes, that are common to all people. As Steven Pinker (2002) notes,
the differences in skin color and hair that are so obvious when we look at people of other races
are really a trick played on our intuition. Racial differences are largely adaptations to climate. Skin
pigment was a sunscreen for the tropics, eyelid folds were goggles for the tundra. The parts of the
body that face the elements are also the parts that face the eyes of other people, which fools them
into thinking that racial differences run deeper than they really do.
(p. 143)
In addition, during the period in U.S. history when racial segregation was legal, race was defined by
law and people could petition a court to change their racial classification (Banks & Eberhardt, 1998).
Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination   7
If race were a biological fact, it could hardly be changed by court order. Even so, laws rooted in the
belief that race is genetic persist today. In the United States, membership in almost two-thirds of
federally recognized Indian tribes is determined by a “blood quantum” criterion, meaning that a
person must document that s/he has at least one-quarter Indian ancestry to be eligible for government services (Smedley & Smedley, 2011). Similarly, the belief that a person with even one drop of
”Black blood” is Black persists to at least some extent in the American psyche (Ho, Sidanius, Levin, &
Banaji, 2011; Morning, 2011). Yet cultural shifts in perceptions of race are evident, as captured in the
history of racial classification by the U.S. Census. Over the decades, census categories have shifted
from five, mutually exclusive categories (in 1978) to six categories (beginning in 2000) under a system
that allows respondents to check that they belong to one or more such categories (Trimble, Helms, &
Root, 2003). As Derald Wing Sue (2003) notes, the current system allows for 63 possible racial
categories—a decision wholly inconsistent with the notion that race can be biologically identified.
The weight of the evidence supports Ashley Montagu’s (1974) conclusion that only one biological
race exists—the human race. The concept of race as we now use it developed, then, not as a set of
biological categories but rather as a set of social categories. Yet its social nature does not diminish
the psychological importance of race. It remains a fundamental basis for how people think about and
interact with each other (Morning, 2011). As Phillip Rubio (2001, cited in Rosenblum & Travis, 2012)
put it, “race is a biological fiction but a social fact” (p. 25).
Cultural Influences on Perceptions of Race and Ethnicity
The fact that racial categories are arbitrary and fluid does not dilute their power as socially defined categories. Indeed, for as long as psychologists have studied stereotyping and prejudice, there has been little
reluctance on the part of individuals to share their knowledge of stereotypes nor has there been a shortage of groups who experience prejudice and discrimination based on their race/ethnicity (Schneider,
2004). Although, as psychologists, we will be focusing on prejudice and discrimination at the individual
level, it is important to consider how people’s cultures influence their behavior, attitudes, beliefs, and
other psychological characteristics, including those related to prejudice and discrimination (Lott, 2010).
As is noted in Box 1.2, race may have a questionable meaning at the biological level, but it has a profound influence at the cultural level. Even a cursory review of history shows that social hierarchies based
on race and ethnicity have been supported by society (Jones, 2003; Morning, 2011).
To understand the influence these cultural beliefs have on perceptions of and actions toward
social groups, we must first understand the concept of culture. As Jeffrey Mio, Lori Barker, and Jaydee
Tumambing (2012) point out, culture can be difficult to define because people use the term in several
ways. Culture, for example, sometimes refers to art, music, and dance. Other times it is used in reference
to other groups, as when the term “teen culture” is used to signify how adolescent attitudes and behavior differ from that of other age groups. Although there is no one accepted definition of culture, we will
follow David Matsumoto and Linda Juang (2013) and define human culture as “a unique meaning and
information system, shared by a group and transmitted across generations, that allows the group to meet
basic needs of survival, pursue happiness and well-being, and derive meaning from life” (p. 15).
8   Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Culture influences stereotyping and prejudice because members of a culture hold sets of beliefs in
common, including beliefs about behaviors, values, attitudes, and opinions. An important concept is
that people operate within their cultural context, but are often unaware of it. This lack of awareness is
like a fish’s understanding of the notion of water: Because fish are completely surrounded by water, they
are unaware of its importance to their very survival. So it is with culture: Human action is often driven
by cultural expectations and experiences and this process typically occurs without conscious awareness.
Adam Gopnik (2000), an American journalist, notes that “[a]fter four years [living] in Paris, I have come
to realize that [jokes] are where true cultural differences reside” (p. 191). He explains that there is a “zone
of kidding overlaid with not kidding” (p. 191) that can only be understood when one is fully integrated
into a culture. He offers the example of fathers handing out cigars at the birth of their child. On the one
hand, he notes, this is a way to celebrate a major life event—a zone of not kidding. Yet at the same time,
the act has an unspoken reference to popular culture, specifically to Desi Arnez of I Love Lucy (or other
1950s sitcom characters) handing out cigars, and so includes an element of kidding as well. Americans
may not know the origin of the joke, but they are likely to recognize the duality represented by the act.
Those raised outside the United States are not likely to grasp this subtlety.
As people grow up in a culture, they tend to be unaware of its influence on them until something
happens, such as a stay in another country that draws some aspect of their own culture to their attention (Stangor, Jonas, Stroebe, & Hewstone, 1996). However, during times of profound social change,
cultural influences on attitudes and beliefs come into focus. In the 1950s, when Del Martin and Phyllis
Lyon founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian political and social organization in
the United States, homosexuality was rarely discussed and was (until 1973) classified as a mental
disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (Public Broadcasting Service, 2012). Until relatively
recently, public statements supporting gay rights were almost unthinkable (Herek, 2010; Kite, 2011).
Today, however, public opinion polls show large shifts toward greater acceptance of gay rights; for
example, in 2015, 54 percent of U.S. survey respondents supported legalizing gay marriage, compared
to 27 percent in 1996 (Pew Research Center, 2015). The Pew Global Attitudes Project (2015) shows
widespread acceptance of homosexuality in Western Europe (87 percent of Germans, 77 percent of
French, and 88 percent of Spaniards believe homosexuality should be accepted, for example). In other
countries, such as Nigeria, Uganda, Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia, and El Salvador, the picture is starkly
different: Results of the Pew Project showed that over 93 percent of respondents in those countries
believe homosexuality is unacceptable. There are generational differences within some countries as
well. Opinion polls show that in Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the United States, for example, younger people report greater acceptance of gay rights; in most Western European countries,
acceptance is similar across adults of all ages (Pew Global Attitudes Project, 2015).
Culture also influences how immigrants to a nation are viewed. Immigrants bring new values and
customs to a host country, which can be enriching. However immigrants can also be viewed as a threat
if they are seen as competitors for the host society’s limited economic resources or as challenging its
core values. In response to such threats, host society members may derogate immigrants and overtly discriminate against them (Esses, Jackson, & Bennett-AbuAyyash, 2010). How people define their national
identity influences their attitudes toward immigrants. For example, Samuel Pehrson, Rupert Brown, and
Hanna Zagefka (2009) found that English college students who adopted a nativist view—that is, they
believed national identity is based on birth and shared ancestry and so is “in the blood”—reported more
Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination   9
hostility toward immigrants than those who did not adopt that view. In contrast, people who believe
national identity is based on voluntary commitment to a country’s laws and institutions rather than
ancestry are more accepting of immigrants (Pakulski & Tranter, 2000). Immigration is on the rise internationally; it is now at its highest point in human history and continued increase is predicted for the future
(Esses, Deaux, Lalonde, & Brown, 2010). Hence, tensions stemming from the perceived threats of immigration will likely increase for host countries in the coming years. However, acceptance of immigrants
can be fostered; for example, Canadian college students who read an editorial that included statements
that emphasized national unity (such as “Today’s immigrants are tomorrow’s Canadians”) reported more
positive attitudes toward immigrants than did those who read an editorial describing the demographic
characteristics of Canadian immigrants (Esses, Dovidio, Semenya, & Jackson, 2005).
Group Privilege
The cultural aspect of prejudice and discrimination is also expressed through White privilege or the more
general concept of group privilege. If you are White, chances are you have not given a lot of thought to
your race or ethnicity—because you have had no need to. The question “What does it mean to be White?”
actually can be quite puzzling to White people. When Derald Wing Sue (2003) posed this question to a
group of White adults in San Francisco, common responses included “Is this a trick question?,” “I’ve never
thought about it,” and “I don’t know what you are talking about”—reactions Sue believes represent “the
invisible whiteness of being” (p. 120). Simply put, when individuals are members of the dominant group
in a society, their beliefs and actions seem normal and natural and are often taken for granted.
Researchers have captured this fact of life with the concept of White privilege. A host of seemingly
simple actions illustrate the idea of group privilege: When buying a house or car, driving in an affluent
neighborhood, or making a financial transaction, for example, Whites seldom consider the possibility that
their race comes into play at all (Johnson, 2006; McIntosh, 1988). Members of minority groups, in contrast,
are often well aware that even the smallest everyday action can be affected by their race. Lena Williams
(2000) writes about “the look” Black professionals often get from people who do not expect them to be in
such roles. Well-educated Blacks, for example, often hear “You went to Harvard?” or “You’re the Wall Street
Journal reporter?” from surprised Whites who simply do not expect Blacks to have those credentials.
Group privilege is an unearned favored state conferred simply because of one’s race, gender, social
class, or sexual orientation (McIntosh, 1988). The concept of group privilege begins with the recognition
that there is a corollary to discrimination or undeserved negative treatment based on one’s group membership. The corollary is that advantages are granted to people simply because they belong to a particular
group. These advantages are typically invisible to the people who hold them, but they nonetheless have
frequent and positive influences on everyday life. An important aspect of these advantages is that they
are unearned; that is, they are not based on ability, effort, or past success but rather are granted solely
because one is a member of the privileged group (Johnson, 2006; McIntosh, 1988).
The advantages associated with being a member of a privileged group may, at first glance, seem
small and unimportant. However, these seemingly minor advantages accumulate and their overall
impact can indeed be significant. Every time a Black professional flying first class is asked to show a
boarding pass before being allowed to take her seat or every time a well-dressed Black man in a hotel
is assumed to be a bell hop, there is an impact on the individual’s sense of self (see L. Williams, 2000).
10   Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Alvin Poussaint, a noted Harvard psychiatrist, refers to the impact of privilege on the unprivileged as
death by a thousand nicks (cited in L. Williams, 2000). One of our former students, Ally Moyer, reflects
on these advantages as they relate to heterosexual privilege in Box 1.3.
Box 1.3
A Student’s View of Heterosexual Privilege
Ally Moyer is a recent Ball State University graduate who majored in Psychological Science. She
wrote about heterosexual privilege in a paper for our course on the Psychology of Prejudice and
Discrimination and she agreed to allow us to share some of her thoughts with you.
As I think about heterosexual privilege, it seems to me that the frequently discussed examples tend to merely skim the surface. Heterosexual privilege has a more personal meaning for me
because I have experienced the loss of that privilege by coming to identify as lesbian. I have finally
learned to accept myself for who I am, but some days I catch myself thinking about how much
easier life would be if I were straight.
Coming to terms with my sexual orientation was a very long, stressful, and difficult time in my life.
Accepting myself took several years and the personal struggles involved prevented me from enjoying
other areas of my life. During that time, I was not content with who I was and this discontent held me
back from having a social life and from reaching my full academic potential. Because heterosexual men
and women have the privilege of not having to deal with accepting their own sexual orientation, they
have the freedom to concentrate on other areas of their lives. Their sexual orientation is “normal”
and this “normalcy” eliminates the need for reflection on the meanings of sexual orientation and the
struggle for self-acceptance of difference that leads to the coming-out process. At this point in my life,
I have come out to several people, but it can still be very difficult to do because coming out is a continuous process: For everyone I know, I need to ask myself if this person will accept me as I really am.
In contrast, heterosexuals have the privilege of not having to take the interpersonal and social risks of
coming out. Because people tend to assume others are straight, coming out as straight isn’t necessary.
Straight people don’t have to worry about their friends accepting their sexual orientation,
which makes heterosexuality a privilege. It seems pretty basic, but the anxiety that accompanied
my fear of being rejected because of my sexuality was crippling for me. It genuinely affected me
on a day-to-day basis. Heterosexuals can live their lives without fear of rejection because of their
sexual orientation. Yes, straight people do have some fear of rejection regarding other components of their identity, but the fear I have experienced is specifically due to my sexual orientation.
Heterosexuals are also privileged because they aren’t held to a standard of appearance relating to sexual orientation. I’ve been told on numerous occasions that I “don’t look like a lesbian.”
Some people take it a little further and tell me they don’t believe that I’m gay. It took me a long
time to get where I am today and when people tell me this I am offended. I worked hard to
accept myself and to become comfortable in my skin. When someone doesn’t believe that I’m
gay because of the way I look, I feel like they’re denying me a certain aspect of my social identity.
It feels like they’re trying to tell me I can’t be who I am because I don’t fit their stereotypical view
Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination   11
of what a lesbian is supposed to look like. I’m already different from what is considered “normal”
in our society and I’ve discovered that, to some people, I also don’t fit what a “normal” lesbian is
supposed to look like. I’ve had to make changes in my life to help myself accept the fact that I’m
different from what’s typical and now I feel even more pressures because people expect me to
look a certain way because of my sexual orientation.
Paula Caplan (1994) uses the metaphor “lifting a ton of feathers” to describe the subtle ways in which
prejudice against women and its converse, male privilege, affects people’s everyday lives. This male prerogative can be overt; for example, in surveys from around the world, between 23 and 38 percent of female
respondents reported being physically assaulted by an intimate male partner at some point in their
lives (World Health Organization, 2013). More often, however, privilege refers to subtle factors; for
example, men do not have to look far to find heroes or role models of their gender, nor do they have
to worry about overpaying at the car repair shop because they are male (Johnson, 2006). Other social
groups also have privileges. For example, heterosexuals are free to post pictures of their significant other
in their offices, or to hold hands or kiss in public, and friends and family do not question whether
they are “sure” they are heterosexual (Nadal, 2013). Able-bodied persons are privileged because their
physical environment is relatively easy to navigate whereas people with physical disabilities regularly
face obstacles that handicap their mobility (Dunn, 2015). People with higher incomes can easily find
examples of their group being positively represented in textbooks and the media, whereas people with
lower incomes cannot (Bullock, Wyche, & Williams, 2001). In her groundbreaking essay on White privilege, Peggy McIntosh (1988) describes privileges as unearned assets that dominant groups can “count
on cashing in each day, but about which [they were] ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. [For them] privilege
is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes,
tools and blank checks” (p. 1).
As Allan Johnson (2006) notes, group privilege makes it easy for Whites to see racism as a problem
that belongs to people of color, for heterosexuals to see anti-gay prejudice as a problem that belongs
to lesbians and gay men, and for men to see sexism as a “woman’s problem.” In essence, the attitude
develops that prejudice and discrimination are someone else’s concern, so members of the privileged
groups do not have to do anything about them. This perspective, although comforting to the privileged group, ignores a critical piece of the prejudice puzzle: Privilege for one group entails loss for other
groups. It is impossible to be privileged without withholding the benefits you enjoy as a member of
your group from members of other groups. Because group privileges are part of the culture, those who
have them take them for granted and are usually unaware of their operation: The privileges are just
part of “the way things are.” Therefore, unless challenged, privileges perpetuate themselves. However,
if prejudice is ever to be eradicated, this “luxury of obliviousness” (Johnson, 2006, p. 22) is something
society cannot afford.
Understanding and accepting the existence of group privilege can be difficult. As Tim Wise and
Kim Case (2013) note, during discussions about White privilege, Whites sometimes feel under attack
and “feel that they are being judged as deliberately seeking to harm others, or at least passively accepting advantages over others” (p. 18). These feelings can lead to negative reactions to outgroup members.
12   Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
For example, Whites who are asked to think about their privileged status later report higher levels of
racism, particularly if they have a strong racial identity, compared to Whites who are asked to consider
the disadvantages of being White (Branscombe, Schmitt, & Schiffhauer, 2007). Threatening people’s
sense of self also affects how willing they are to recognize their group privilege. For example, Brian
Lowery, Eric Knowles, and Miguel Unzueta (2007) found that White college students were less likely to
acknowledge that their group benefitted from racial privilege when their intellectual ability was called
into question compared to when it was reaffirmed.
However, as Wise and Case (2013) note, people may be more willing to consider their privileged status
if they are reminded that theirs is not the only group that enjoys unearned advantages. The way in which
people think about inequality also influences how they respond to it. For example, Adam Powell, Nyla
Branscombe, and Michael Schmitt (2005) had White college students read a series of statements describing
racial inequality. These statements were framed as White privilege (e.g., White Americans can easily rent or
purchase housing in any area where they can afford to live) or as Black disadvantage (e.g., Black Americans
often have difficulty renting or purchasing a house even in areas where they can afford to live). The students
then completed a measure of collective guilt; this measure assessed whether they thought Whites, as a group,
were responsible for how Blacks have been treated. Finally, participants indicated the extent to which they
believed racism in the United States persists. Those who read statements framed as White privilege expressed
more collective guilt and less racism than those who read statements framed as Black disadvantage. Powell
and colleagues propose that when Whites see racism as a disadvantage for Blacks, they also fail to see it
as self-relevant and so do not feel guilty. However, when Whites are encouraged to think about how their
group’s advantages perpetuate inequality, they feel collective guilt but, in turn, also report less racist beliefs.
As we consider stereotyping and prejudice throughout this book, keep in mind the two sides of the coin:
The disadvantages of experiencing prejudice and discrimination and the advantages of unearned privilege.
Finally, as Abby Ferber (2012) notes, “those with white privilege, or any form of privilege, often
become angry when confronted by the fact of their privilege, having been taught to see their own accomplishments as based on their own efforts and hard work alone” (p. 65). But remember that success due to
hard work is not negated just because one is a member of a privileged group. Johnson (2006) acknowledges this distinction in this reflection on his White male privilege:
The existence of privilege doesn’t mean that I didn’t do a good job or that I don’t deserve credit for it.
What it does mean is that I’m also getting something other people are denied, people who are like me in
every respect except for the social categories they belong to. In this sense, my access to privilege doesn’t
determine my outcomes, but it is definitely an asset that makes it more likely that whatever talent, ability,
and aspirations I have will result in something good for me.
(pp. 21–22, italics in original)
The next stop in our journey through the psychology of prejudice and discrimination brings us to the
terminology used by social scientists who study these topics. In his classic book, The Nature of Prejudice,
Gordon Allport (1954) argued that an adequate definition of prejudice must include two essential
Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination   13
elements: There must be an attitude of favor or disfavor and there must be an overgeneralized, erroneous
belief. This definition captures how most people think of prejudice. Contemporary psychologists take a
more fine-grained approach, separating beliefs, or stereotypes, from the evaluation component of those
beliefs and from the behavior toward members of the groups about which the beliefs are held. We next
define each of these three components: stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.
In the contemporary model of prejudice, beliefs are labeled stereotypes, a term Walter Lippman (1922)
borrowed from the printing lexicon because it represented a fixed or unchanging process that reproduced
exactly the same image every time it was applied (Ashmore & Del Boca, 1981). Writing at the beginning
of the last century, Lippman (1922) described stereotypes as “pictures in our heads,” noting that “what
each [person] does is based not on direct and certain knowledge, but on pictures made by [him or her]
self and given to him [or her]” (p. 16). This conceptualization is consistent with how modern social scientists think about stereotypic beliefs. There is no one universal truth about the social world on which
people can all rely. Instead, people’s experiences and perspectives color the landscape of their beliefs, for
better or worse, and it is this portrait that people use to navigate their social world.
For our purposes, stereotypes are beliefs and opinions about the characteristics, attributes, and behaviors of members of various groups (Hilton & von Hippel, 1996). There are several key aspects of stereotypes.
First, although stereotypes may be pictures in each individual’s head, they also come from shared beliefs
that are an integral part of culture (Jones, 1997). Stereotypes may be refined by each individual, but there is
typically group consensus about the content of those beliefs. People learn stereotypes from the media, peers,
parents, and even sources such as classic and modern literature. And, of course, people gather information
about groups simply by observing the world around them. Researchers often assess these observations by
asking people to estimate the likelihood or probability that an individual member of a group has a certain
characteristic, but they may also allow people to freely list the characteristics they associate with a group or
might ask respondents to choose which of a set of adjectives they believe apply to a group.
A second key question researchers consider is whether stereotypes are accurate or inaccurate.
Departing from Allport’s (1954) view, most researchers no longer assume that all stereotypes are completely erroneous (Schneider, 2004), but allow that, because stereotypes are based to some extent on
observations made about the social world, they may contain a “kernel of truth.” However, in many cases,
this bit of accuracy becomes exaggerated and often is applied with a broad brush to all group members.
Even seemingly straightforward beliefs—for example, that men are taller than women—can lead to problems when applied at the individual level: Some women are taller than most men. Thus, a stereotype
might be accurate for a group taken as a whole, but inaccurate for at least some members of that group.
Moreover, examples of completely inaccurate stereotypes abound. Think back to many of the beliefs
once held about women’s abilities, such as the notion that women should play half-court basketball
because they were not physically able to do otherwise or that educating women would divert too much
blood to their brain and thus reduce their reproductive capacities (Bem, 2004). To cite a more recent
example of inaccurate stereotypes, national survey data show that 70 percent of U.S. respondents believe
that illegal immigration is increasing (CNN/ORC, 2015) but, in fact, the numbers have declined since
2007 and have remained unchanged in recent years (Passel & Cohn, 2014). Another common belief is
14   Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
that the majority of the poor in the United States are Black residents of inner cities; however, in actuality
this group represents only about 25 percent of poor people (Iceland, 2003). See Box 1.4 for one example
of the negative effects of inaccurate stereotypes.
Box 1.4
Blacks Can Swim
A not uncommon stereotype, even among African Americans, is that Black people cannot swim. At
first glance, even research data suggest this stereotype is accurate. Blacks are more likely to report
limited swimming ability than are members of other ethnic groups (Gilchrist, Sacks, & Branche, 2000)
and the drowning rate for Black children is 2.6 times that of White children (Gilchrist & Parker, 2014).
In swimming-pool settings, the drowning rate for Black children is 5.5 times higher than the drowning rate for White children (Gilchrist & Parker, 2014). Statistics such as these have led to stereotypic
beliefs such as Blacks lack buoyancy or that their bone structure prohibits them from swimming.
Although these beliefs have been discredited, they still discourage many young Blacks from learning
to swim. This is highly unfortunate, because Blacks can and do learn to swim. The statistical data accurately show ethnic group differences in drowning rates and correctly document Blacks’ self-reported
limited swimming ability, but they don’t support the stereotypic belief that Blacks cannot swim.
A number of programs are in place to change this perception. One successful program was started
by Jim Ellis, a Philadelphia school teacher who, in 1971, trained 35 Black students to be competitive
swimmers (Douglas, 2007). Many of his protégés have earned college scholarships and have competed
in Olympic tryouts; his success story is the subject of the movie Pride. At the local level, instructors
of swimming programs, such as those sponsored by the American Red Cross, are successfully teaching Black children to swim (Red Cross, 2014). In addition, role models such as Cullen Jones, the first
Black swimmer to break a world record, and Maritza Correla, the first Black woman to make the U.S.
Olympic team, can encourage other African Americans to learn to swim (Douglas, 2007). Until then,
the consequence of the inaccurate belief that Blacks cannot swim is that too few Blacks do learn to
swim. At best, people who do not learn to swim are losing out on the opportunity to participate in a
healthy activity; at worst, they are losing their lives because of this erroneous perception.
A third key aspect of stereotypes is that they can be both descriptive and prescriptive (Prentice & Carranza,
2002). That is, stereotypes can describe the characteristics group members are believed to have, but they
can also tell us what people believe group members should be like and should do. As stereotypes take on
more prescriptive elements, they put more limits on members of the stereotyped group. For example, it is
accurate that most elementary school teachers are female (a descriptive stereotype), but is there a reason
why this must be so? If not, should girls and women be encouraged to pursue this occupation while boys
and men are discouraged from doing so (a prescriptive stereotype), thereby limiting the career choices
of both women and men?
Finally, although psychologists often focus on negative stereotypes, beliefs about social group members can also be positive. Asian Americans are generally considered high achievers and highly motivated
Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination   15
(Oyserman & Sakamoto, 1997), Blacks are believed to be athletic and musical (Czopp & Monteith, 2006),
men are believed to be good at problem solving and reasoning (Cejka & Eagly, 1999), and women are
thought to be caring and to have good verbal ability (Deaux & Lewis, 1984). As Alexander Czopp, Aaron
Kay, and Sapna Cheryan (2015) note, these positive beliefs are generally viewed as complimentary; however, as we will discuss in Chapter 3, these positive beliefs are formed and maintained by the same
psychological processes as negative beliefs and, as such, are subject to the same biases. Because positive
stereotypes reflect favorably on a social group, they may be more readily accepted by target group members than are more negative beliefs.
However, as Czopp and colleagues (2015) point out, there may be subtle and unintended costs when
social group members readily accept positive beliefs. For example, when a girl…
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