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Ku Klux Klan are using the Internet to spread their message of hate. The Internet has
allowed hate speech and the advocacy of violence against minorities to cross national
boundaries. For example, on one Web site, one can peruse a variety of racist cartoons
and purchase hate-related products. Hate-based “educational materials” are also easily
obtained on the Internet. One program called The Jew Rats portrays Jews as rats who
are indoctrinated to hate others and take over the world. Racist video games are also
readily available. One game called Bloodbath in Niggeria involves shooting carica-
tures of Africans who pop up in huts. Yet another called Border Patrol allows gamers
to shoot illegal Mexican immigrants running across the U.S. border. In addition, the
Internet provides a medium that can help hate groups organize more easily. In addition
to organizing on a local level, hate sites can now easily link hate groups across land
and ocean, making the spread of hate and prejudice much easier.
On the other hand, there is evidence that attitudes, although not necessarily behav-
ior, toward speci¬c groups have become more positive. For example, gender stereo-
types seem to have lessened recently at least among college students, if not among
older individuals (Swim, 1994). In this case, social norms in favor of greater equality
seem to be holding. Finally, it is worth noting that social norms operate on a number
of levels simultaneously. It is generally true that societal norms have turned against
the overt expression of prejudice, and this has reduced prejudice. However, norms also
operate on a more “local” level. Not only are we affected by societal norms, but we
are also in¬‚uenced by the norms of those closest to us (e.g., family and friends). If it
is normative within your immediate group of family and friends not to be prejudiced
or express prejudices, then odds are you wonʼt. If, however, your immediate family
and friends are prejudiced and express prejudices, then you will probably do the same.
Generally, we strive to be “good group” members, which often means following the
norms established by that group, whether positive or negative (Crandall, Eshleman,
& OʼBrien, 2002).


The Cognitive Roots of Prejudice: From Categories
to Stereotypes
Cognitive social psychologists believe that one of the best ways to understand how
stereotypes form and persist is to look at how humans process information. As we saw in
Chapters 2 and 3, human beings tend to be cognitive misers, preferring the least effortful
means of processing social information (Taylor, 1981). We have a limited capacity to
deal with social information and therefore can deal with only relatively small amounts
at any one time (Fiske & Taylor, 1991).
Social Psychology
124

Given these limitations, people try to simplify problems by using shortcuts, primar-
ily involving category-based processes (Bodenhausen & Wyer, 1985; Brewer, 1988). In
other words, it is easier to pay attention to the group to which someone belongs than to
the individual traits of the person. It takes less effort and less time for someone to use
category-based (group-based) information than to try to deal with people on an indi-
vidual basis (Macrae et al., 1994). For example, in June 1998 when James Byrd was
dragged to death in Texas, he was chosen as a victim purely because of his race. Byrd,
a black man, was hitchhiking home from a party when three white men stopped to pick
him up. The three men beat Byrd and then chained him to their truck and dragged him
to death”all because he was black and in the wrong place at the wrong time. Research
studies of the cognitive miser demonstrate that when peopleʼs ability or motivation to
process information is diminished, they tend to fall back on available stereotypes. For
example, in one study, when a jurorʼs task was complex, he or she recalled more nega-
tive things about a defendant if the defendant was Hispanic than if the defendant did
not belong to an identi¬able group. When the jurorʼs task was simple, no differences in
judgment were found between a Hispanic and a non-Hispanic defendant (Bodenhausen
& Lichtenstein, 1987). When the situation gets more complicated, individuals tend to
rely on these stereotypes.
Individuals are more likely to fall back on stereotypes when they are not at the peak
of their cognitive abilities (Bodenhausen, 1990). Bodenhausen tested participants to
determine if they were “night people””individuals who function better in the evening
and at night”or “day people””individuals who function better in the morning. He
then had participants make judgments about a studentʼs misconduct. Sometimes the
student was described in nonstereotypic terms (his name was “Robert Garner”), and in
other situations he was portrayed as Hispanic (“Roberto Garcia”), as African American,
or as an athlete.
The experiment showed that when people are not at their peak (morning people at
night or night people in the morning), they tend to solve problems by using stereotypes.
As shown in Figure 4.5, morning types relied on the stereotype to judge the student
when presented with the case in the evening; evening types fell back on stereotypes in
the morning. These ¬ndings suggest that category-based judgments take place when we
do not have the capacity, the motivation, or the energy to pay attention to the target, and
these lead human beings into a variety of cognitive misconceptions and errors.




Figure 4.5
Ratings of perceived
guilt as a function
of time of day,
personality type, and
stereotype activation.
When individuals are
not at their cognitive
peak, they are more
likely to rely on
stereotypes when
making judgments.
Based on data from Bodenhausen,
1990.
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 125


Identi¬cation with the In-Group
One of the principal cognitive processes common to all human beings seems to be the
tendency to categorize people either as belonging to an in-group (us) or an out-group
(them). This tendency has implications beyond simple categorization. We tend to identify
with and prefer members of the in-group. We also tend to ascribe more uniquely “human
emotions” (e.g., affection, admiration, and pride) to the in-group than the out-group
in-group bias The powerful
(Leyens et al., 2000). Taken together, these tendencies comprise the in-group bias. This
tendency of humans to favor
tendency to favor the in-group is accompanied by a simultaneous tendency to identify
over other groups the group to
“different” others as belonging to a less favored out-group, which we do not favor.
which they belong.
Our tendency to favor the in-group and vilify the out-group is related to the type of
emotions we experience about those groups. When we feel good about something that
the in-group does or is associated with and feel anger over what the out-group does, then
we are most likely to strongly identify with the in-group (Kessler & Hollbach, 2005).
So, for example, if our country is associated with something good (e.g., winning an
Olympic medal) and another country is associated with something bad (e.g., a judging
scandal at the Olympics), we feel the most in-group pride and are likely to strongly
identify with the in-group. Conversely, we are less likely to identify with the in-group
when it is associated with something bad and the out-group is associated with something
good (Kessler & Hollbach, 2005). In other words, we are likely to bask in re¬‚ected glory
(BIRG) when the in-group does something good and cut off re¬‚ected failure (CORF)
when the in-group does something bad (Kessler & Hollbach, 2005). This might explain
why so many people change attitudes quickly (e.g., about the 2003 Iraq War) when news
is bad (CORFing). However, when things are going well (e.g., the early stages of the
Iraq War), we experience a sense of national pride and are happy with our BIRGing.
How we perceive and judge members of an out-group depends, at least in part, on
how we perceive the in-group. The in-group is normally used as a standard by which the
behavior of out-group members is judged (Gawronski, Bodenhausen, & Banse, 2005).
In fact, a contrast effect occurs when in-group and out-group members are compared
on the same traits. For example, if members of an in-group perceive that their group
possesses a trait, they are likely to perceive that out-group members do not (Gawronski
et al., 2005). In short, the way we perceive our own group (the in-group) has a lot to do
with how we perceive the out-group.
Henri Tajfel, a social psychologist, studied the phenomenon of in-group favorit-
ism as a way of exploring out-group hostility. He was preoccupied with the issue of
genocide, the systematic killing of an entire national or ethnic group. As a survivor of
Nazi genocide of European Jews from 1939 to 1945, Tajfel had a personal as well as a
professional interest in this issue (Brown, 1986).
Unlike earlier researchers, who emphasized the irrational thoughts and emotions
of the prejudiced personality as the source of intergroup violence, Tajfel believed that
cognitive processes were involved. He believed that the process of categorizing people
into different groups led to loyalty to the in-group, which includes those people one
perceives to be similar to oneself in meaningful ways. Inevitably, as in-group solidarity
forms, those who are perceived to be different are identi¬ed as members of the out-group
(Allport, 1954; Billig, 1992).
Tajfel was searching for the minimal social conditions needed for prejudice to
emerge. In his experiments with British school boys, he found that there was no situa-
tion so minimal that some form of in-group solidarity did not take shape. He concluded
that the need to favor the in-group, known as the in-group bias, was a basic component
of human nature. What are the reasons for this powerful bias?
Social Psychology
126

As noted in Chapter 2, we derive important aspects of our self-concepts from our
membership in groups (Turner, 1987). These memberships help us establish a sense
of positive social identity. Think of what appears to be a fairly inconsequential case
of group membership: being a fan of a sports team. When your team wins a big game,
you experience a boost, however temporary, to your sense of well-being (by BIRGing).
You donʼt just root for the team; you become part of the team. You say, “We beat the
heck out of them.” Think for a moment about the celebrations that have taken place in
Detroit, New York, Boston, and elsewhere after home teams won professional sports
championships. It is almost as if it wasnʼt the Tigers or the Mets or the Celtics who
won, but the fans themselves.
When your team loses the big game, on the other hand, you feel terrible. Youʼre
tempted to jump ship. It is hard to read the newspapers or listen to sportscasts the next
day. When your team wins, you say, “We won.” When your team loses, you say, “They
lost” (Cialdini, 1988). It appears that both BIRGing and jumping ship serve to protect
the individual fanʼs self-esteem. The team becomes part of the personʼs identity.

Social Identity Theory
Tajfelʼs (1982) social identity theory assumes that human beings are motivated to posi-
tively evaluate their own groups and value them over other groups, in order to maintain
and enhance self-esteem. The group confers on the individual a social identity, that part
of a personʼs self-concept that comes from her membership in social groups and from
her emotional connection with those groups (Tajfel, 1981).
Fundamental to social identity theory (SIT) is the notion of categorizing the other
social identity theory
(SIT) An assumption that we groups, pigeonholing them, by the use of stereotypes”those general beliefs that most
all need to have a positive people have about members of particular social groups (Turner, 1987). People are moti-
self-concept, part of which vated to hold negative, stereotypes of out-groups; by doing so, they can maintain the supe-
is conferred on us through
riority of their own group and thereby maintain their positive social (and self) identity.
identi¬cation with certain
Generally, any threat to the in-group, whether economic, military, or social, tends
groups.
to heighten in-group bias. Additionally, anything that makes a personʼs membership in
a group more salient, more noticeable, will increase in-group favoritism. One series of
experiments showed that when people were alone, they were likely to judge an out-group
member on an individual basis, but when they were made aware of their in-group mem-
bership by the presence of other members of their group, they were likely to judge the
out-group person solely on the basis of stereotypes of the out-group (Wilder & Shapiro,
1984, 1991). The increase of in-group feelings promoted judgments of other people on
the basis of social stereotypes. When group membership gets switched on, as it does,
for example, when you are watching the Olympics or voting for a political candidate,
then group values and social stereotypes play a larger role in how you react.

Self-Categorization Theory
Increase in self-esteem as a result of group membership is central to SIT (Grieve &
Hogg, 1999). To increase membersʼ self-esteem, the in-group needs to show that it is
distinct from other groups in positive ways (Mummenday & Wenzel, 1999). Central to
self-categorization an extension of SIT, self-categorization theory (SCT) is the notion that self-catego-
theory (SCT) A theory rization is also motivated by the need to reduce uncertainty (Hogg & Mullin, 1999).
suggesting that people need The basic idea is that people need to feel that their perceptions of the world are correct,
to reduce uncertainty about
and this correctness is de¬ned by people”fellow group members”who are similar to
whether their perceptions of
oneself in important ways. In a study by Haslam, Oakes, Reynolds, and Turner (1999),
the world are “correct” and
when the category Australian was made salient for a group of Australian students, it
seek af¬rmation of their beliefs
from fellow group members. tended to reduce uncertainty about the characteristics that comprise oneʼs social group.
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 127

Consequently, it regulated and structured the membersʼ social cognition. This is con-
sistent with SCT. When reminded of their common category or group membership, the
Australian students were more likely to agree on what it meant to be Australian.
What are the consequences of uncertainty? Grieve and Hogg (1999) showed that
when uncertainty is high (i.e., when group members did not know if their performance
was adequate or would be successful in achieving group goals), groups were more likely
to downgrade or discriminate against other groups. In other words, uncertainty is a threat.
Uncertainty was also accompanied by increased group identi¬cation. So threat creates
a kind of rally-round-the-¬‚ag mentality. Self-categorization theory suggests, then, that
only when the world is uncertain does self-categorization lead to discrimination against
other groups (Grieve & Hogg, 1999). Self-categorization theory adds a bit of optimism
to its parent theoryʼs (SIT) outlook by suggesting that categorization does not always
lead to discrimination, and if threat can be managed or alleviated, little discrimination
or intergroup antagonism need occur.

A Biological Perspective on the In-Group Bias
Tajfelʼs research has shown us that the formation of an in-group bias serves basic social
and self needs primarily by maintaining personal self-esteem. Some scientists, speci¬-
cally sociobiologists”scientists who take a biological approach to social behavior”
believe that ethnocentrism (the increased valuation of the in-group and the devaluation
of out-groups) has a foundation in human biological evolution. They point out that for
the longest part of their history, humans lived in small groups ranging from 40 to 100
members (Flohr, 1987). People had to rely on the in-group and gain acceptance by its
members; it was the only way to survive. It would make sense, then, that a strong group
orientation would be part of our human heritage: Those who lacked this orientation
would not have survived to pass their traits on to us.
Sociobiologists also point out that people in all cultures seem to show a naturally
occurring xenophobia, or fear of strangers. This fear may also be part of our genetic
heritage. Because early populations were isolated from one another (Irwin, 1987),
people may have used similar physical appearance as a marker of blood relation-
ship (Tonnesmann, 1987). Clearly, there was always the possibility that people who
looked different could be a threat to the food supply or other necessities of survival.
Sociobiologists argue that it is reasonable to expect that people would be willing to
cooperate only with humans of similar appearance and biological heritage and that they
would distrust strangers (Barkow, 1980).
In modern times, as Tajfel showed, we still derive much of our identity from group
membership; we fear being excluded from groups (Baumeister & Tice, 1990). High respect
for our own groups often means a devaluing of other groups. This is not necessarily a big
problem until groups have to compete for resources. Because the world does not appear
to offer a surplus of resources, competition among groups is inevitable. Of particular
interest to sociobiologists is a study by Tajfel (1982) and his coworkers in which it was
demonstrated that children show a preference for their own national group long before
they have a concept of country or nation. Children ranging in age from 6 to 12 years old
were shown photographs of young men and were asked how much they liked those men.
Two weeks later, the children were shown the same photographs again. They were also
told that some of the men belonged to their nation and others did not. The children had to
decide which young men were “theirs” (belonged to their country) and which were not.
The researchers found that the children were more likely to assign the photographs they
liked to their own nation. Therefore, liking and in-group feelings go together at an age
when children cannot really comprehend fully the idea of a nation (Flohr, 1987).
Social Psychology
128

In sum, those who offer a biological perspective on intergroup prejudice say that
strong in-group identi¬cation can be understood as an evolutionary survival mechanism.
We can ¬nd examples throughout human history of particular ethnic, racial, and religious
groups that have strengthened in-group bonds in response to threats from the dominant
group (Eitzen, 1973; Myrdal, 1962). Strengthening of these in-group bonds may help
the group survive, but this is only one way of looking at the in-group bias. Acceptance
of this notion does not require us to neglect our social psychological theories; it simply

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