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One important strategy used by the army was the level playing ¬eld (Moskos, 1990,
1991). This means that from basic training onward, everyone is treated the same”
the same haircuts, the same uniforms, the same rules and regulations. This helps to
reduce advantages and handicaps and make everyone equal. The army also has a basic
remedial education program that is bene¬cial for those with leadership qualities but
de¬cits in schooling.
A second factor is a rigid no-discrimination policy. Any expression of racist senti-
ments results in an unfavorable rating and an end to a military career. This is not to say
that of¬cers are free of racist sentiments; it merely means that of¬cers jeopardize their
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 149

careers if they express or act on such sentiments. A racial insult can lead to a charge of
incitement to riot and is punishable by time in the brig. The army uses social scientists to
monitor the state of racial relations. It also runs training programs for equal-opportunity
instructors, whose function is to see that the playing ¬eld remains level.
The armyʼs ability to enforce a nonracist environment is supported enormously
by the hierarchy that exists both within the of¬cer corps and among the noncommis-
sioned of¬cers. The social barriers that exist in the army re¬‚ect rank rather than race.
A sergeant must have a stronger identi¬cation with his or her peer sergeants than with
members of the same race in lower ranks.
Finally, the armyʼs nondiscriminatory environment is visible in its leadership. Many
African Americans have leadership roles in the army, including General Colin Powell,
the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
What lessons can we learn from the U.S. Armyʼs experience? First, a fair imple-
mentation of the contact hypothesis is a good starting point for reducing prejudice.
Equal-status interaction and clear mutual goals, even superordinate goals, are essential
ingredients of effective contact. Clear and forceful support of the program by leader-
ship is another ingredient. Anyone who violates the policy suffers. At the same time,
positive action is taken to level prior inequalities. The armyʼs special programs ensure
that everyone has an equal chance.
Some of these lessons cannot be transferred from the army setting. Civilian society
does not have the armyʼs strict hierarchy, its control over its members, or its system of
rewards and punishments. But the fundamental lesson may be that race relations can
best be served by strengthening positive social norms. When social norms are very clear,
and when there is a clear commitment to nondiscrimination by leadership”employers,
politicians, and national leaders”individual members of society have the opportunity
to transcend their prejudices and act on their shared humanity.



The Mormon Experience Revisited
We opened this chapter with a discussion of the experience of the Mormons in the 1800s.
The Mormons were the victims of stereotyping (branded as heretics), prejudice (negative
attitudes directed at them by the population and the press), and discrimination (economic
boycotts). They were viewed as the out-group by Christians (the in-group) to the extent
that they began living in their own homogeneous enclaves and even became the target
of an extermination order. Once the “us” versus “them” mentality set in, it was easy
enough for the Christian majority to pigeonhole Mormons and act toward individual
Mormons based on what was believed about them as a group. This is what we would
expect based on social identity theory and self-categorization theory. By perceiving the
Mormons as evil and themselves as the protectors of all that is sacred, the Christian
majority undoubtedly was able to enhance the self-esteem of its members.
The reaction of the Mormons to the prejudice also ¬ts nicely with what we know
about how prejudice affects people. Under conditions of threat, we tend to band more
closely together as a protection mechanism. The Mormons became more clannish and
isolated from mainstream society. This is an example of using primary compensation
to cope with the prejudice. The Mormons decided to keep to themselves and tried not
to antagonize the Christian majority. Unfortunately, this increased isolation was viewed
by the majority as further evidence for the stereotypes about the Mormons. Ultimately,
the cycle of prejudice continued until the Mormons were driven to settle in Utah.
Social Psychology
150


Chapter Review
1. How are prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination de¬ned?
Prejudice is de¬ned as a biased, often negative, attitude about a group of
people. Prejudicial attitudes include belief structures housing information
about a group and expectations concerning the behavior of members of
that group. Prejudice can be positive or negative, with negative prejudice”
dislike for a group”being the focus of research and theory. A stereotype
is a rigid set of positive or negative beliefs about the characteristics of
a group. A stereotype represents pictures we keep in our heads. When a
prejudiced person encounters a member of a group, he or she will activate the
stereotype and ¬t it to the individual. Stereotypes are not abnormal ways of
thinking. Rather, they relate to the natural tendency for humans to categorize.
Categorization becomes problematic when categories become rigid and
overgeneralized. Stereotypes may also form the basis for judgmental
heuristics about the behavior of members of a group. Discrimination is
the behavioral component of a prejudicial attitude. Discrimination occurs
when prejudicial feelings are turned into behavior. Like stereotyping,
discrimination is an extension of a natural tendency to discriminate among
stimuli. Discrimination becomes a problem when it is directed toward people
simply because they are members of a group. It is important to note that
discrimination can occur in the absence of prejudice, and prejudice can exist
without discrimination.
2. What is the relationship among prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination?
Prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination are related phenomena that
help us understand why we treat members of certain groups with hostility.
Prejudice comes in a variety of forms, with sexism (negative feelings
based on gender category) and racism (negative feelings based on apparent
racial category) being most common. Stereotyped beliefs about members
of a group often give rise to prejudicial feelings, which may give rise to
discriminatory behavior.
Stereotypes also may serve as judgmental heuristics and affect the way
we interpret the behavior of members of a group. Behavior that is seen as
stereotype-consistent is likely to be attributed internally and judged more
harshly than behavior that is not stereotype-consistent.
3. What evidence is there for the prevalence of these concepts from a historical
perspective?
History tells us that stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination have been
with human beings for a long time. Once formed, stereotypes and prejudices
endure over time. Stereotyped views of Japanese by Americans (and vice
versa) endured from the World War II era through the present. Prejudicial
feelings also led to religious persecution in the United States against groups
such as the Mormons.
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 151

4. What are the personality roots of prejudice?
One personality dimension identi¬ed with prejudice is authoritarianism. People
with authoritarian personalities tend to feel submissive toward authority ¬gures
and hostile toward different ethnic groups. They have rigid beliefs and tend to
be racist and sexist. Social psychologists have also explored how members of
different groups, such as whites and blacks, perceive each other. An updated
version of the authoritarian personality is right-wing authoritarianism (RWA),
which also relates to prejudice. Social dominance orientation (SDO) is another
personality dimension that has been studied. People high on social dominance
want their group to be superior to others. SDO is also related to prejudice.
When SDO and RWA are considered together, they are associated with the
highest levels of prejudice. Finally, two dimensions of the “big ¬ve” approach
to personality (agreeableness and openness) are negatively related to prejudice.
There is also evidence that SDO and RWA may relate differently to different
forms of prejudice. SDO is related to stereotyping, negative emotion, and
negative attitudes directed toward African Americans and homosexuals, and
RWA is related to negative stereotypes and emotion directed at homosexuals,
but not African Americans.
5. How does gender relate to prejudice?
Research shows that males are higher on SDO than females and tend to be
more prejudiced than females. Research on male and female attitudes about
homosexuality generally shows that males demonstrate a more prejudiced
attitude toward homosexuals than do females. Males tend to have more
negative feelings toward gay men than toward lesbians. Whether females
show more prejudice against lesbians than against gay men is not clear. Some
research shows that women donʼt make a distinction between gays and lesbians,
whereas other research suggests greater prejudice against lesbians than against
gay men. Other research shows that males tend to show more ethnic prejudices
than females.
6. What are the social roots of prejudice?
Prejudice must be considered within the social context within which it exists.
Historically, dominant groups have directed prejudice at less dominant groups.
Although most Americans adhere to the notion of equity and justice toward
minorities such as African Americans, they tend to oppose steps to reach those
goals and only pay lip service to the notion of equity.
7. What is modern racism, and what are the criticisms of it?
In modern culture, it is no longer acceptable to express prejudices overtly,
as it was in the past. However, prejudice is still expressed in a more subtle
form: modern racism. Adherents of the notion of modern racism suggest
that opposing civil rights legislation or voting for a candidate who opposes
af¬rmative action are manifestations of modern racism.
Critics of modern racism point out that equating opposition to political
ideas with racism is illogical and that the concept of modern racism has not
been clearly de¬ned or measured. Additionally, the correlation between modern
racism and old-fashioned racism is high. Thus, modern and old-fashioned
racism may be indistinguishable.
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152

8. What are the cognitive roots of prejudice?
Cognitive social psychologists have focused on stereotypes and intergroup
perceptions when attempting to understand prejudice. As humans, we have a
strong predisposition to categorize people into groups. We do this even when
we have only the most minimal basis on which to make categorizations. We
classify ourselves and those we perceive to be like us in the in-group, and
others whom we perceive to be different from us we classify in the out-group.
As a result of this categorization, we tend to display an in-group bias:
favoring members of the in-group over members of the out-group.
Tajfel proposed his social identity theory to help explain in-group bias.
According to this theory, individuals are motivated to maintain a positive
self-concept, part of which comes from membership in groups. Identi¬cation
with the in-group confers us with a social identity. Categorizing dissimilar
others as members of the out-group is another aspect of the social identity
process. When we feel threatened, in-group bias increases, thereby enhancing
our self-concept. Self-categorization theory suggests that self-esteem is most
likely to be enhanced when members of the in-group distinguish themselves
from other groups in positive ways.
The in-group bias may also have biological roots. We have a strong
wariness of the unfamiliar, called xenophobia, which sociobiologists think
is a natural part of our genetic heritage. It may have helped us survive as
a species. It is biologically adaptive, for example, for a child to be wary
of potentially dangerous strangers. The in-group bias may serve a similar
purpose. Throughout history there are examples of various groups increasing
solidarity in response to hostility from the dominant group to ensure group
survival. Prejudice, then, may be seen as an unfortunate by-product of
natural, biologically based behavior patterns.
Because it is less taxing to deal with a person by relying on group-
based stereotypes than to ¬nd out about that individual, categorizing people
using stereotypes helps us economize our cognitive processing effort. Quick
categorization of individuals via stereotypes contributes to prejudicial
feelings and discrimination. Automatic language associations, by which we
link positive words with the in-group and negative words with the out-group,
contribute to these negative feelings.
9. How do cognitive biases contribute to prejudice?
Cognitive biases and errors that lead to prejudice include the illusory
correlation, the fundamental attribution error, the con¬rmation bias, the
out-group homogeneity bias, and the ultimate attribution error. An illusory
correlation is the tendency to believe that two unrelated events are connected
if they are systematically related. If you have a tendency to believe that
members of a minority group have a negative characteristic, then you will
perceive a relationship between group membership and a behavior related
to that trait. Additionally, illusory correlations help form and maintain
stereotypes. A prejudiced person will overestimate the degree of relationship
between a negative trait and a negative behavior. The fundamental attribution
error (the tendency to overestimate the role of internal characteristics in the
behavior of others) also helps maintain stereotypes and prejudice. Because of
Chapter 4 Prejudice and Discrimination 153

this error, individuals tend to attribute negative behaviors of a minority group
to internal predispositions rather than to situational factors. The con¬rmation
bias maintains prejudice because individuals who hold negative stereotypes
about a group look for evidence to con¬rm those stereotypes. If one expects a
minority-group member to behave in a negative way, evidence will be sought
to con¬rm that expectation. The out-group homogeneity bias is the tendency
to see less diversity among members of an out-group than among members
of an in-group. As a consequence, a negative behavior of one member of an
out-group is likely to be seen as representative of the group as a whole. The
ultimate attribution error occurs when we attribute a negative behavior of
a minority group to the general characteristics of individuals who make up
that group, whereas we attribute the same behavior of an in-group member to
situational factors.
10. Are stereotypes ever accurate, and can they be overcome?
There are studies that show that some stereotypes sometimes are accurate.
However, accurate or not, stereotypes are still harmful, because they give us
a damaging perception of others. There is a tendency to judge individuals
according to the worst example of a group represented by a stereotype.
Stereotypes can be overcome if one uses controlled processing rather than
automatic processing when thinking about others.
11. How do prejudiced and nonprejudiced individuals differ?
One important way in which more- and less-prejudiced individuals differ
is that the latter are aware of their prejudices and carefully monitor them.
Less-prejudiced persons tend not to believe the stereotypes they hold and act
accordingly. Prejudiced individuals are more likely to use automatic processing
and energize stereotypes than are less-prejudiced individuals who use
controlled processing. However, even nonprejudiced persons will fall prey to
stereotyping if stereotypes are activated beyond their conscious control.
12. What is the impact of prejudice on those who are its target?
There are many ways that prejudice can be expressed, some more serious
than others. However, it is safe to say that even the lowest level of expression
(antilocution) can have detectable emotional and cognitive consequences for
targets of prejudice. Everyday prejudice has a cumulative effect on a person and
contributes to the targetʼs knowledge and experience with prejudice. Targets of
prejudice-based jokes report feelings of disgust, anger, and hostility in response
to those jokes.
Another way that targets of prejudice are affected is through the
mechanism of the stereotype threat. Once a stereotype is activated about
oneʼs group, a member of that group may perform poorly on a task related to
that threat, a fact con¬rmed by research. Another form of threat is collective
threat, which occurs when a person from a stereotyped group becomes overly
concerned that a transgression by a member of oneʼs group may re¬‚ect badly on
him or her as an individual. Collective threat comes from a concern that poor
performance by one member of oneʼs group may be viewed as a stereotype and
generalized to all members of that group.
Social Psychology
154

13. How can a person who is the target of prejudice cope with being a target?
Usually, individuals faced with everyday prejudice must ¬nd ways of
effectively managing it. If oneʼs group is devalued, stigmatized, or oppressed
relative to other groups, prejudice can be countered by raising the value of
the devalued group. This is done by ¬rst convincing group members of their
own self-worth and then by convincing the rest of society of the worth of
the group. Another strategy used by individuals from a stigmatized group
is to try to anticipate situations in which prejudice will be encountered.
Individuals can then decide how to best react to or minimize the impact of
prejudice, for example, by modifying their behavior, the way they dress,
or the neighborhood in which they live. A third way to cope with stress is
through the use of compensation. There are two modes of compensation
in which a person can engage. When secondary compensation is used, an
individual attempts to change his or her mode of thinking about situations
to psychologically protect him- or herself against the outcomes of prejudice.
For example, a person who wants to obtain a college degree but faces

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