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women tend not to make distinctions between gay men and lesbians. Other research,
however, shows that females show more negative attitudes toward lesbians than gay
men (Gentry, 1987; Kite, 1984).
Baker and Fishbein (1998) investigated the development of gay and lesbian preju-
dice among a sample of 7th, 9th, and 11th graders. They found that males tended to be
more prejudiced against gays and lesbians than females were, and male participants
showed greater prejudice against gay males than against lesbians. Prejudice against
gays and lesbians increased between 7th and 9th grade for both males and females;
however, between the 9th and 11th grades, gay prejudice decreased for female partici-
pants, whereas it increased for male participants. Baker and Fishbein suggested that
the increase in male antigay prejudice may be rooted in the maleʼs increased defensive
reactions to intimate relationships.
A central question emerging from this research is whether there are gender differ-
ences in other forms of prejudice. One study, for example, con¬rmed that males show
more ethnic prejudice than females on measures concerning friendship and allowing an
ethnic minority to live in oneʼs neighborhood. Males and females did not differ when
interethnic intimate relations were considered (Hoxter & Lester, 1994). There is rela-
tively little research in this area, and clearly, more is needed to investigate the relation-
ship between gender and prejudice for a wide range of prejudices.



The Social Roots of Prejudice
The research on the authoritarian personality and gender provides an important piece
of the puzzle of prejudice and discrimination. However, it is only one piece. Prejudice
and discrimination are far too complex and prevalent to be explained by a single,
personality-based cause. Prejudice occurs in a social context, and another piece of the
puzzle can be found in the evolution of feelings that form the basis of relations between
dominant and other groups in a particular society.
To explore the social roots of prejudice, letʼs consider the situation of African
Americans in the United States. During the years before the Civil War, black slaves
were considered the property of white slave owners, and this arrangement was justi¬ed
by the notion that blacks were in some way less human than whites. Their degraded
condition was used as proof of their inferiority.
In 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation
Proclamation, setting slaves free. But abolition did little to end prejudice and negative
attitudes toward blacks. The Massachusetts 54th Regiment, for example, was an all-
black Union Army unit”led by an all-white of¬cer corps. Blacks were said to lack the
ability to lead; thus no black of¬cers were allowed. Because of these stereotypes and
prejudices, members of the 54th were also paid less than their white counterparts in
other regiments. Initially also, they were not allowed in combat roles; they were used
instead for manual labor, such as for building roads.
Despite prejudice, some blacks did rise to positions of prominence. Frederick
Douglass, who escaped from slavery and became a leader and spokesperson for
African Americans, was instrumental in convincing President Lincoln to issue the
Emancipation Proclamation and to allow black troops to ¬ght in the Civil War. Toward
the end of the war, over 100,000 black troops were ¬ghting for the North, and some
historians maintain that without these troops, the result of the Civil War may have
been different.
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 119

Over the course of the next hundred years, African Americans made strides
in improving their economic and social status. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in
Brown v. Board of Education that segregated (separate but equal) schools violated the
Constitution and mandated that schools and other public facilities be integrated. Since
then, the feelings of white Americans toward African Americans have become more
positive (Goleman, 1991). This change in attitude and behavior re¬‚ects the importance
of social norms in in¬‚uencing and regulating the expression of feelings and beliefs.
Yet there is a curious nature to these feelings. White Americans almost unanimously
endorse such general principles as integration and equality, but they are generally opposed
to steps designed to actualize these principles, such as mandatory busing or af¬rmative
action (Katz, Wackenhut, & Hass, 1986). It may be that white Americans pay lip service to
the principle of racial equality. They perceive African Americans as being both disadvan-
taged by the system and deviant. In other words, white Americans are aware that African
Americans may have gotten a raw deal, but they also see them as responsible for their
own plight (Katz et al., 1986). Remember that the human tendency to attribute behavior
to internal rather than external causes makes it more likely that people will ascribe the
reasons for achievement or lack of it to the character of an individual or group.
Although we may no longer have tarring and feathering of members of different
groups, prejudice still exists in more subtle forms. If acquired early enough, prejudice
seems to become part of oneʼs deepest feelings:

Many southerners have confessed to me, for instance, that even though in their
minds they no longer feel prejudice toward African Americans, they still feel
squeamish when they shake hands with an African American. These feelings are left
over from what they learned in their families as children. (Pettigrew, 1986, p. 20)

Given the importance of racial issues in U.S. history and given the way people
process information in a categorical and automatic way, some observers assume that
racist feelings are the rule for Americans (Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986).
Incidents from daily life seem to bear out this conclusion. In 2003 conservative
commentator Rush Limbaugh was called to task for comments he made in his role as
an ESPN sports commentator. Limbaugh speculated that the sportswriters were pulling
for black quarterback Donovan McNabb to succeed because McNabb was black. Most
pundits viewed Limbaughʼs comments as racist even though Limbaugh denied his com-
ments were racist. In any event, Limbaugh resigned his ESPN position because of the
uproar about his comments.
In July 2006, the Sony Corporation was accused of using a racist advertisement in
the Netherlands for its new “White PlayStation Portable” game unit. The advertisement
showed a white woman grabbing the face of a black woman aggressively. The slogan
on the advertisement read “PlayStation Portable White Is Coming.” Despite the accu-
sations, Sony was sticking by the advertisement. A spokesperson for Sony denied that
the advertisement was racist, adding that the women depicted were intended to contrast
the new white gaming system with its existing black system (Gibson, 2006).
Even our politicians are not exempt from letting racially charged statements slip out.
In 2002, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott made questionable statements at the 100th
birthday celebration of Senator Strom Thurmond. Thurmond was one of the so-called
“Dixiecrats” in the 1940s. The Dixiecrats comprised a group of Democrats who split off
from the main party because of the insertion of a civil rights plank in the Democratic Party
platform. In 1948 Thurmond ran as a third-party candidate for president on the Dixiecrat
ticket. At his 100th birthday celebration, Lott said “I want to say this about my state: When
Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. Weʼre proud of it. And if the rest
Social Psychology
120

of the country had followed our lead, we wouldnʼt have had all these problems over all
these years, either.” Once again these statements were labeled as racist. Lott denied any
racist intent and apologized for his statements (NPR, 2002). Regardless, he was forced
to resign his post as Senate majority leader (although he remained a senator).

Modern Racism
Although racist beliefs and prejudicial attitudes still exist, they have certainly become
less prevalent than they once were. For example, according to data from the General
Social Survey (1999), attitudes toward blacks improved between 1972 and 1996. Figure
4.4 shows some of the data from this survey. As shown in Figure 4.4, responses re¬‚ecting
more positive racial attitudes can be seen in questions concerning whether whites have a
right to keep blacks out of their neighborhood (blacks out), whether one would vote for a
black presidential candidate (black president), whether whites would send their children
to a school where more than 50% of the children were black (send children), whether
they would vote to change a rule excluding blacks from a social club (change rule), and
whether they would support a law preventing housing discrimination (housing law).
Despite these gains, prejudice still exists. Why this contradiction? Since the study
of the authoritarian personality was published several decades ago, it has become
more dif¬cult (socially and legally) to overtly express prejudice against individuals
from particular racial groups. It is not unusual, for example, for an individual to be
removed from his or her job because of a racist statement. For example, in 1996, WABC
(a New York) radio station ¬red Bob Grant, one of its most popular on-air personali-
ties because of a history of racist statements. Even calling a racist a racist can get you
¬red. Alan Dershowitz, a prominent attorney, was ¬red from his talk show after calling
Grant despicable and racist. Even if racism was not the intent, one can still be ¬red for




Figure 4.4 The
changing face of racial
prejudice. Between the
years 1972 and 1996,
whites have shown more
favorable attitudes towards
blacks.
Based on data from General Social Survey
(1999).
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 121

using racial (or other ethnic) slurs. Even the appearance of prejudice from someone in
an of¬cial position is unacceptable today.
aversive racist Person
Some social psychologists believe that many white Americans currently are aversive
who believes he or she is
racists, people who truly believe they are unprejudiced, who want to do the right thing
unprejudiced, but feels uneasy
but, in fact, feel very uneasy and uncomfortable in the presence of someone from a dif-
and uncomfortable in the
ferent racial group (Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986). When they are with members of other
presence of someone from a
groups, they smile too much, are overly friendly, and are sometimes very fearful. These different racial group.
feelings do not lead the aversive racist to behave in a negative way toward members of
other groups; rather, they lead him or her to avoid them.
This more subtle prejudice is marked by an uncertainty in feeling and action toward
people from different racial groups. McConahay (1986) referred to this con¬guration of
feelings and beliefs as modern racism, also known as symbolic racism. Modern racists modern racism Subtle racial
prejudice, expressed in a less
moderate their responses to individuals from different racial groups to avoid showing
open manner than is traditional
obvious prejudice; they express racism but in a less open manner than was formerly
overt racial prejudice and
common. Modern racists would say that yes, racism is a bad thing and a thing of the
characterized by an uncertainty
past; still, it is a fact that African Americans “are pushing too hard, too fast, and into in feeling and action toward
places where they are not wanted” (p. 93). minorities.
McConahay devised a scale to measure modern racism. In contrast to older scales,
the modern racism scale presents items in a less racially charged manner. For example,
an item from the modern racism scale might ask participants whether African Americans
have received more economically than they deserve. On an old-fashioned scale, an item
might ask how much you would mind if an African American family moved in next door
to you. According to McConahay, modern racists would be more likely to be detected
with the less racist items on an old-fashioned scale. McConahay found that the modern
racism scale is sensitive enough to pick up more subtle differences in an individualʼs
racial feelings and behaviors than the older scales. The modern racism scale tends to
reveal a more elusive and indirect form of racism than the older scales.
In one of McConahayʼs experiments, participants (all of whom were white) were
asked to play the role of a personnel director of a major company. All had taken a version
of the modern racism scale. The “personnel director” received a resume of a graduat-
ing college senior who was a very ordinary job candidate. The race of the candidate
was manipulated: for half of the participants, a photograph of an African American was
attached, and for the other half, a photograph of a white person was attached.
Another variable was added to the experiment in addition to the race of the applicant.
Half of each group of participants were told that there were no other quali¬ed candidates
for the job. This was called the no anchor condition, because the personnel directors had
no basis for judgment, no other candidate against which to evaluate the ordinary candidate.
The other half of each group saw the resumes of two other candidates, both white, who
were far superior to the ordinary candidate, white or African American. This was called
the anchor condition, because the personnel directors now had a basis for comparison.
Personnel directors in all four groups were asked to make a decision about the can-
didate on a scale ranging from “de¬nitely would hire” to “de¬nitely would not hire.”
McConahayʼs ¬ndings revealed that individuals who have high scores on the modern
racism scale (indicating that they are prejudiced) do not treat white candidates any dif-
ferently than their nonprejudiced counterparts.
Whether they scored 0 or 25 or somewhere in between on the scale, all participants
rated the white candidates in both the anchor and the no-anchor condition in a similar
way. Participants with low scores (near 0) rated white candidates about the same, whereas
high scorers (closer to 25) rated the white no-anchor candidate a little higher than the
white anchor candidate.
Social Psychology
122

More interesting are the ratings of African American candidates. For nonprejudiced
participants, African Americans, anchored or not, were rated precisely the same. But
there was a very large difference between candidates for the prejudiced participants.
An unanchored African American candidate was absolutely dismissed, whereas the
anchored African American candidate, compared to more quali¬ed whites, was given
the highest rating.
Why these differences? Recall that modern racists are rather uncertain about how to
feel or act in situations with members of different racial or ethnic groups. They particu-
larly do not want to discriminate when others will ¬nd out about it and can label what
they did as racist (Donnerstein & Donnerstein, 1973). To reject a very ordinary African
American candidate when there were no other candidates probably would not be seen
as prejudiced, because the candidate was not quali¬ed. Note how much more favorably
the modern racist judged the white candidate in the same anchor circumstances.
But when there is a chance that his or her behavior might be termed racist, the
modern racist overvalues African Americans. This is seen when there were quali¬ed
white candidates (anchor condition). The modern racist goes out of his or her way to
appear unprejudiced and therefore gives the ordinary African American candidate the
highest rating. Participants who scored low on the modern racism scale felt con¬dent
about how to feel and act in racial situations. People from different racial groups do
not make them uncomfortable; they “call it like they see it” (Hass, Katz, Rizzo, Bailey,
& Eisenstadt, 1991).
The concept of modern racism is not without its critics. Some suggest that it is
illogical to equate opposition to an African American candidate or af¬rmative action
programs with racism (Sykes, 1992). Other critics point out that modern racism research-
ers have not adequately de¬ned and measured modern racism (Tetlock, 1986). They
also point out that high correlations exist (ranging from about r = .6 to .7) between old-
fashioned racism and modern racism. That is, if a person is a modern racist, he or she
also is likely to be an old-fashioned racist. According to these critics, there simply may
not be two forms of racism.
The fact is that race is a complex issue and contains many facets. In the past, accord-
ing to public opinion surveys, whites were essentially either favorable or unfavorable to
the cause of African Americans. But racial feelings are more subtle now. Someone might
be against busing of schoolchildren but not opposed to having an African American
neighbor (Sniderman & Piazza, 1994). Additionally, a personʼs racial attitudes are often
affected by his or her politics. Individuals who have favorable attitudes toward African
Americans but who perceive af¬rmative action policies to be unfair may come to dislike
African Americans as a consequence (Sniderman & Piazza, 1994).

Changing Social Norms
What accounts for the changes we see in the expression of racist sentiments and for the
appearance of modern racism? Our society, primarily through its laws, has made the
obvious expression of racism undesirable. Over the past 30 years, social norms have
increasingly dictated the acceptance of members of different racial and ethnic groups
into mainstream society. Overt racism has become socially unacceptable. But for many
individuals, deeply held racist sentiments remain unchanged. Their racism has been
driven underground by societyʼs expectations and standards.
Because of changed social norms, charges of prejudice and discrimination are taken
seriously by those against whom they are made. In 2002, the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain
was sued by the Justice Department on behalf of several patrons who claimed they had been
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 123

discriminated against because of their race. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that Cracker
Barrel showed a pattern of discrimination against African Americans by refusing them
service, allowing white waitstaffers not to serve blacks, seating black patrons in a segre-
gated area, and making black patrons wait longer than white patrons to be seated (NAACP,
2002). In 2004 Cracker Barrel settled the suit with the Justice Department. Cracker Barrel
agreed to overhaul its manager and employee training (Litchblau, 2004).
Despite such cases, it appears that societal norms have been altered, allowing racial
and ethnic animosities and prejudices to be expressed. One good example of these shift-
ing norms is the proliferation of hate on the Internet. It is nearly impossible to get an
accurate count of the number of hate sites on the Internet. However, according to the
Antidefamation League (1999), hate groups such as Neo-Nazis, Skinheads, and the

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