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Carr, and Kiang (1998). Female participants in this experiment all performed an initial
task of identifying words. Afterward, some participants were told that their perfor-
mance on the task provided clear evidence that they had an aptitude for college-level
work. Other participants were told that the evidence concerning college performance
was unclear. Next, participants were told that there was either strong evidence that
men did better than women on the second test (stereotype threat) or that there were no
sex differences (no stereotype threat). Before working on the second task, participants
were asked to rate their ability to perform the second task successfully. The results of
this experiment, shown in Figure 4.8, were clear. When a stereotype threat was not
activated, performance was affected by the feedback given after the ¬rst task. Those
participants who believed that there was clear, positive evidence of college aptitude
had higher expectations of success than those given unclear feedback. In the stereo-
type threat condition, the two groups did not differ in their expectations concerning
the second task.
Thus, in addition to arousing anxiety about testing situations, stereotype threats
also lower oneʼs expectations about oneʼs performance. Once these negative expecta-
tions develop, a self-ful¬lling prophecy is most likely developed that “Because I am
a female, I am not expected to do well on this task.” Poor performance then con¬rms
that prophecy.
Whether the arousal related to a stereotype threat adversely affects performance
depends, in part, on the nature of the task individuals must perform. A consistent ¬nding in
social psychology is that arousal enhances performance on a simple task but inhibits per-
formance on a more dif¬cult task (we discuss this effect in detail in Chapter 8). Ben Zeev,
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 139




Figure 4.8 Task
performance as a function
of feedback about prior
performance and activation
of a stereotype threat.
When no threat was
activated, participants used
performance on a prior task
to form expectations about
further performance. When
a threat was activated,
performance was affected by
what was expected based
on the stereotype.
From Charles Stangor, Christine Carr, and Lisa
Kiang (1998).




Fein, and Inzlicht (2005) conducted a study to investigate this effect. Participants per-
formed either a simple task (writing their names in cursive several times) or dif¬cult task
(writing their names in cursive backwards) under stereotype threat or no threat. Ben Zeev
et al. found that the arousal associated with the stereotype threat enhanced performance
on the simple task and inhibited performance on the dif¬cult task.
In a second experiment Ben Zeev et al. found that how participants attributed the
cause for their arousal affected performance. Once again, participants were exposed to
either a stereotype threat condition or no-threat condition. Participants were told that
one purpose of the study was to investigate performance while being exposed to sub-
liminal noise. Participants in the misattribution condition were told that the subliminal
noise would produce physical symptoms such as arousal and nervousness. Participants
in the control group were told that the subliminal noise would have no physical side
effects. All participants completed a moderately dif¬cult math test while being exposed
to the noise. The results showed that participants in the control group showed the usual
stereotype threat effect (poorer performance under threat versus no threat). However,
in the misattribution condition there was no signi¬cant threat effect on performance.
Hence, if you can attribute your arousal to something other than a stereotype, you will
perform well. Arousal related to stereotype threat appears to be an important mediator
of performance, as is how the source of the arousal is attributed.
Finally, activating a stereotype threat does not always lead to a decrement in
performance. In one experiment, Keller and Bless (2005) manipulated the ease of
activating stereotype information (easy versus dif¬cult) along with whether a stereotype
threat was activated. Participants completed a questionnaire that they believed tested
“emotional intelligence” but actually measured verbal ability. Keller and Bless found the
typical stereotype threat effect when activation of stereotype information was easy. That
is, when activation was easy, participants who experienced stereotype threat performed
more poorly on the test of verbal ability than participants who did not experience
Social Psychology
140

stereotype threat. However, when activation was dif¬cult, there was no signi¬cant
difference in performance between the two stereotype threat groups. In fact, the results
showed a slight reversal of the effect. Keller and Bless suggest that when a stereotype
can be easily activated, it may reinforce the validity of the stereotype in the mind of
the individual. The stereotype that is presumed to be valid is then more likely to inhibit
performance than one that is harder (and presumably less valid) to activate.
The impact of a stereotype threat also is mediated by oneʼs locus of control. Locus
of control is a personality characteristic relating to whether a person believes he or she
controls his or her outcomes (internal locus of control) or external events control outcomes
(external locus of control). Cadinu, Maass, Lombardo, and Frigerio (2006) report that
individuals with an internal locus of control exhibited a greater decrease in performance
under stereotype threat than individuals with an external locus of control.

Collective Threat
The preceding studies show how being the target of a stereotype can affect individual
behavior in a very speci¬c context (i.e., testing). Stereotypes can also have a broader,
more general effect by making members of stereotyped groups sensitive to the stigma-
tizing effects of the stereotype. In other words, a person from a stereotyped group may
become overly concerned that a transgression by a member of oneʼs group may re¬‚ect
badly on him or her as an individual (Cohen & Garcia, 2005). Cohen and Garcia refer
to this as collective threat. Collective threat ¬‚ows from “the awareness that the poor
performance of a single individual in oneʼs group may be viewed through the lens of a
stereotype and may be generalized into a negative judgment of oneʼs group” (Cohen &
Garcia, 2005, p. 566).
Cohen and Garcia conducted a series of studies to assess the effects of collective
threat. In their ¬rst study junior and senior high school students completed a question-
naire that included measures of collective threat (concern that behavior of other members
collective threat of oneʼs group will re¬‚ect badly on the group as a whole), stereotype threat (concern
The awareness that the poor that oneʼs own behavior will re¬‚ect badly on oneʼs group), and a more generalized
performance of a member of threat of being stereotyped (concern that people will judge the participant based on
one™s group may be evaluated
what they think of the participantʼs racial group). Cohen and Garcia (2005) compared
with a stereotype and may be
the responses from students representing three racial/ethnic groups: blacks, whites, and
generalized into a negative
judgment of one™s entire group. Latinos. Garcia and Cohen found that minority students (blacks and Latinos) were more
likely to experience each of the three types of threats than white students. They also
found that experiencing collective threat was negatively related to self-esteem. The more
a student experienced collective threat, the lower the studentʼs self-esteem, regardless
of the race of the student. Collective threat was also related to a drop in student grade
point averages. High levels of perceived collective threat were related to signi¬cant
drops in grade point average.
A series of follow-up experiments con¬rmed the results from the questionnaire
study. Black students who were randomly assigned to a condition that created collec-
tive threat (compared to control students) experienced lower self-esteem and also per-
formed more poorly on a standardized test. Additionally, the students tended to distance
themselves from a group member who caused the collective threat. Finally, Cohen
and Garcia (2005) found that the effects of collective threat were not limited to racial
groups. In their last experiment reported, the effects of collective threat were replicated
using gender stereotypes (lower math ability than men) rather than racial stereotypes.
Women distanced themselves (sat further way from) another woman who con¬rmed
the math inability stereotype.
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 141


Expecting to Be a Target of Prejudice
Another way that being the target of prejudice can affect behavior occurs when people
enter into a situation in which they expect to ¬nd prejudice. Imagine, for example, that
you are a minority student who will be meeting his white roommate for the ¬rst time.
Could your behavior be affected by your belief that your white roommate might harbor
prejudices and negative stereotypes about your group? The answer to this question is
that it certainly could.
Research reported by Shelton, Richeson, and Salvatore (2005) con¬rmed this very
effect. They found a relationship between the expectation of encountering prejudice
and how they perceived interracial interactions. Speci¬cally, Shelton et al. found that
the more a minority student expected prejudice from another white student, the more
negative they viewed interaction with that person. This relationship was found in a diary
study (students kept a diary of their experiences with their white roommates) and in a
laboratory experiment in which prejudice was induced. Shelton et al. also assessed the
perceptions of the white students in their studies. Interestingly, they found that the more
the minority student expected the white student to be prejudiced, the more positive the
encounter was seen by the white student. This latter ¬nding suggests a major disconnect
between the perceptions of the minority and white students. Minority students who expect
prejudice (and probably experienced it in the past) may misinterpret white studentsʼ
behaviors as indicative of prejudice, making the interaction seem more negative than it
actually is. White students who do not have the history of experiencing prejudice may
be operating in a state of ignorant bliss, not realizing that innocent behaviors may be
misconstrued by their minority counterparts.


Coping with Prejudice
It should be obvious from our previous discussion that being a target of prejudice has a
variety of negative consequences. Individuals facing instance after instance of everyday
prejudice must ¬nd ways to deal with its effects. How, for example, can an overweight
person who is constantly the target of prejudice effectively manage its consequences?
In this section, we explore some strategies that individuals use to cope with being a
target of prejudice.

Raising the Value of a Stigmatized Group
One method of coping with prejudice when your group is stigmatized, oppressed, or
less valued than other groups is to raise its value. This is done by ¬rst convincing group
members of their own self-worth and then convincing the rest of society of the groupʼs
worth. The function of all consciousness-raising efforts and positive in-group slogans
is to persuade the members of scorned or less-valued groups that they are beautiful or
smart or worthy or competent. This ¬rst step, maintaining and increasing self-esteem,
can be approached in at least two ways (Crocker & Major, 1989; Crocker, Voelkl, Testa,
& Major, 1991): attributing negative events to prejudice of the majority and comparing
oneself to members of oneʼs own group.
First, for example, supposed that an African American woman is denied a job or
a promotion. She can better maintain her self-esteem if she attributes this outcome
to the prejudice of the person evaluating her. Of course, people are usually uncertain
Social Psychology
142

about the true motives of other people in situations like this. Although a rejection by
a majority group member can be attributed to the evaluatorʼs prejudice, the effects on
the self-esteem of the minority person are complex.
Some of these effects were investigated in a study in which African American
participants were evaluated by white evaluators (Crocker & Major, 1989). When par-
ticipants thought that evaluators were unin¬‚uenced by their race, positive evaluations
increased their self-esteem. But when participants knew that evaluators were in¬‚uenced
by their race, positive evaluations decreased their self-esteem. Compared to whites,
African Americans were more likely to attribute both positive and negative evaluations
to prejudice. Any judgment, positive or negative, that the recipient thought was based
on racism led to a decrease in self-esteem (Crocker et al., 1991).
Uncertainty about such evaluations thus has important consequences for self-esteem.
In our society, African Americans are often evaluated primarily by whites, which suggests
that they may always feel uncertain about their evaluatorsʼ motives (Crocker et al., 1991).
This uncertainty may be exacerbated for African American females who are evaluated
by white males (Coleman, Jussim, & Isaac, 1991).
Even when race (or some other characteristic) works in oneʼs favor, uncertainty
or attributional ambiguity may be aroused. For example, a minority group member
who receives a job where an af¬rmative action program is in effect may never know
for certain whether he or she was hired based on quali¬cations or race. This attribu-
tional ambiguity generates negative affect and motivation (Blaine, Crocker, & Major,
1995). In one study participants who believed that they received a job due to sym-
pathy over a stigma experienced lower self-esteem, negative emotion, and reduced
work motivation than those who believed they received the job based on quali¬cations
(Blaine et al., 1995).

Making In-Group Comparisons
Second, members of less-favored groups can maintain self-esteem by comparing them-
selves with members of their own group, rather than with members of the more favored
or fortunate groups. In-group comparisons may be less painful and more rewarding for
members of stigmatized groups. Research supports this hypothesis in a number of areas,
including pay, abilities, and physical attractiveness (Crocker & Major, 1989). Once
group members have raised their value in their own eyes, the group is better placed to
assert itself in society.
As the feelings of cohesiveness and belonging of the in-group increase, there is
often an escalation in hostility directed toward the out-group (Allport, 1954). History
teaches us that self-identifying with an in-group and identifying others with an out-group
underlies many instances of prejudice and intergroup hostility.

Anticipating and Confronting Prejudice
Swim, Cohen, and Hyers (1998) suggested that another strategy for individuals from a
stigmatized group is to try to anticipate situations in which prejudice will be encoun-
tered. By doing this, the individual can decide how to best react or to minimize the
impact of prejudice. The individual may decide to alter his or her demeanor, manner
of dress, or even where he or she goes to school or lives in an effort to minimize the
likelihood of encountering prejudice (Swim et al., 1998).
Once a person has made an assessment of a situation for anticipated prejudice, that
person must next decide what course of action to take. The individual could choose to
confront the prejudice and move toward the original goal or choose to avoid the prejudiced
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 143

situation and ¬nd some alternative (Swim et al., 1998). Confronting prejudice means “a
volitional process aimed at expressing oneʼs dissatisfaction with discriminatory treat-
ment to a person or group of people who are responsible for engaging in a discriminatory
event” (Kaiser & Miller, 2004, p. 168). For example, a woman who has just been told a
nasty, sexist joke can confront the joke teller and point out the inappropriateness of the
joke. Although it may be noble to confront prejudice and discrimination, the reality is
that many of us donʼt do it. In one experiment, for example, in which women were sub-
jected to sexist comments, only 45% of the women confronted the offender. However,
privately, a vast majority of the women expressed private distaste for the comments and
the person who made them (Swim & Hyers, 1999). Why would the women who expe-
rienced sexism be reluctant to confront it? Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research
on this issue. One study (Kaiser & Miller, 2004), however, did look into this question.
Women were asked to recall instances of sexism that they had encountered in their lives
(e.g., sexism in the workplace, experiencing demeaning comments, or exposure to ste-
reotyped sex role concepts). The women also completed measures of optimism and cog-
nitive appraisals of confronting sexism. The results showed that women who perceived
confronting prejudice as cognitively dif¬cult (e.g., not worth the effort, anxiety pro-
ducing) were less likely to have reported confronting the sexism they had experienced.
Kaiser and Miller also found a relationship between optimism and cognitive appraisals.
Women with a more optimistic outlook viewed confrontation as less threatening than
women with a pessimistic outlook. In short, women with optimistic outlooks are more
likely to confront prejudice than those with a pessimistic outlook. Thus, both personality
characteristics and cognitive evaluations are involved in the decision to confront preju-
dice. Of course, this conclusion is tentative at this time, and we donʼt know if similar
psychological mechanisms apply to coping with other forms of prejudice.

Compensating for Prejudice
Members of a stigmatized group can also engage in compensation to cope with prejudice
(Miller & Myers, 1998). According to Miller and Myers, there are two modes of
compensation in which a person can engage. When secondary compensation is used, secondary compensation
A method of handling
individuals attempt to change their mode of thinking about situations to psychologically
prejudice involving attempts
protect themselves against the outcomes of prejudice. For example, a person who
to change one™s mode of
wants to obtain a college degree but faces prejudice that may prevent reaching the
thinking about situations to

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