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Stereotypes, Concepts, and the Totalitarian Ego
The Hot-Dog Vendors: Darrell Worthy Tyler Davis Anushka Pai Cindy Stappenbeck
Concepts: The building blocks of cognition
A concept is:
A mental representation of a category. Things that belong together.
Concepts can be about objects, people, or behavior Can be accurate or inaccurate. They aren't necessarily what the world is like, they're what we think its like. Other than concepts about people, can you think of some concepts that you have, or individuals in American culture hold that are inaccurate?
What concepts do:
Help us make sense of the world
Facilitate communication Classification Inference Guide attention Promote reasoning
Have you ever been in a situation where you were conceptless, as in Kunda's example of being baffled by another cultures' practices?
How you activate a concept
Activation depends on stimulus properties,
the context, and the observer Stimulus features. Salience- what stands out What goals you have What has been primed.
Priming- a general term for activating a concept used to explain how a concept is activated. Comes in several varieties.
More about priming
If a concept is primed, it is likely that it will be used to interpret subsequent events.
Example- Hearing a talk on a certain phenomenon and then seeing nothing but that phenomenon in your own research. Do you have any of your own?
Priming can be subliminal Attitudes and feelings can be primed Chronic accessibility (always primed)
Character traits. Example- Chronic paranoia that leads to classifying strangers' behavior as suspicious. Chronic way of classifying others. ExamplePsychiatrists who see ADHD everywhere they turn.
Basic level categories
Natural level to talk about objects Highest level that someone can create an image of the category as a whole Can be different depending on:
Expertise Goals Very flexible Context dependant Impossible to create hierarchies More like a tangled web
Not as clear in social psychology
Models of representation
Social psychologists are not as interested in mapping the architecture as describing its implications Associative network Models
Made up of links and nodes Activation spreads to nodes via links Activation gradually decays in activated nodes Activation can only spread so far. It either just peters out or runs into some sort of barrier Our interpretation of events is determined which nodes have been activated. Explains priming phenomena
Parallel constraint satisfaction models
Involve excitatory and inhibitory links. A node can be activated as well as deactivated. Constrains spreading activation Higher-level concepts are spread out In addition to the phenomena that associative networks can explain, parallel constraint satisfaction models can explain higher level reasoning within the same models as mental representation.
Can you think of any phenomena where architecture might be important for social psychologists to think about?
"cognitive structures that contain our knowledge, beliefs, and expectations about a social group"
These stereotypes guide our expectations
about group members and can color our interpretations of their behavior and traits.
We may activate a group's stereotype
automatically, with little awareness and intention. Study by Patricia Devine (1989)
Do White Americans activate the stereotype "aggressive" for African Americans automatically? White participants exposed subliminally to words related to African American stereotype, but that weren't directly associated with "aggressive"
Either presented with 80% or 20% of
stereotype words out of 100 Then asked to form an impression of a person who performed a series of ambiguously hostile behaviors (ethnicity not specified) Those who received 80% of primed words rated Donald as more hostile than those with 20% of primed words.
Devine's finding is disturbing because if
we are unaware of these associations, we have no control over them How might this influence our behavior towards different groups of people? Is there a way we can use this information to promote positive associations?
Fulfilling a Stereotype
As we behave in keeping with a stereotype, we may cause the stereotyped individual to respond in kind, thereby fulfilling the stereotype
Stereotype Behavior Of Stereotyped Person Our Behavior
Fulfilling a Stereotype
White participants exposed subliminally to photos of either African American or white men. Paired with partner to play a word-guessing game Individuals shown African American photos were more aggressive. Partners (not primed with photos) were also more aggressive The behavior of one individual influences the behavior of another.
When we want to, we can inhibit a stereotype that would otherwise be activated. An African American man praised white participant's abilities These participants suppressed negative stereotypes to maintain credibility. The opposite also true (negative feedback led to stereotype activation) Do you think we can only inhibit stereotypes when it's for personal gain?
Stereotypes on the Rebound
Suppressing a thought may make us
especially likely to entertain that thought
White bear phenomenon
A series of studies in Britain focused on
stereotypes of skinheads
Participants shown photo of skinhead and asked to write a brief description of his typical day
Half told to suppress stereotypical assumptions
Stereotypes on the Subsequent Rebound
tasks revealed that initial
suppression of stereotype led to increase in activation and use later on.
Word recognition tasks Behavioral tasks
Is this really suppression of a stereotype
(could it be activation)? Given this finding, should people try to suppress stereotypes?
The same ambiguous behavior will be
interpreted differently for differently stereotyped groups. Does this necessarily reflect prejudice? How might this lead to racial profiling? Is racial profiling useful?
People can base their impressions on individuating information when it is there, and ignore stereotypes.
John the construction worker vs. John the accountant Who is more aggressive?
Stereotypes may influence predictions about a person's trait-related behavior even when individuating information impacts the trait.
Who is more likely to engage in working-class aggressive behavior in the future?
Ambiguity vs. Unambiguity
Stereotypes can determine the meaning we attach to the individuating information. A construction worker or a housewife hits someone who annoys him or her.
A construction worker or a housewife
decked a neighbor spanked his/her son
Most social behavior is ambiguous, how much can individuating information influence impressions?
When our cognitive resources are
strained, our impressions of individuals may be especially likely to be colored by our stereotypes. Why do we become more likely to apply our stereotypes to stereotyped individuals when our cognitive capacity is taxed? Should we have people judge crimes without knowledge of race or gender?
Motivated Application and Inhibition
We may also be more likely to use
negative stereotypes if we are motivated to disparage the individual.
However, we will only do so if we feel we
have a good justification for this.
Can we make strides to avoid this when
people are in positions of power?
The Target's Perspective
Attributional Ambiguity- After receiving positive or negative feedback, stigmatized individuals may remain uncertain about their abilities and how they are perceived. So, what clues will people use to regulate behavior? Is it better for the indiv. to remain in this uncertainty or to assume that negative feedback is always because of a negative stereotype?
Stereotype threat- the fear that one will be
reduced to the negative stereotypes of one's group can influence performance.
Remedial vs. Honorific Programs Do you think that stereotype threat has an
influence in social behaviors? Friendships? Dating?
The Contact Hypothesis Subtyping counterstereotypic individuals
Extreme vs. moderate deviations
Stereotypes can evolve over time. Is there a way to prevent certain stereotype formations in the first place? Can we change a stereotype we don't want to have?
If you were in a negatively stereotyped
group, would there be something you could do in your behavior to decrease the likelihood of being stereotyped? Is it better to socialize with/work with people of your own stereotyped group? Do we stereotype within our groups?
The Totalitarian Ego
How your ego uses biases in a selfish and manipulative manner
Organization of Knowledge
Self defined by beliefs, goals, values etc. Desire for unity, consistency, continuity Resist major attitude changes Self uses biases to preserve self-concept
Three cognitive biases
Egocentricity self as the focus of
Beneffectance responsible for good, but
not bad outcomes
Cognitive conservatism resistance to
Past is remembered from our perspective,
necessary for autobiographical memories Rogers et al. information is well remembered if considered in relation to ourselves Brenner memory decline for persons preceding or following us Better memory for things related to one's self of social group
Take credit for success, deny blame for
failure Judging one's contributions to the group Johnson (1967) subjects took credit for good scores, but blamed partner for bad scores Vicarious beneffectance fair weather sports fans
Tendency to preserve existing knowledge
structures (including stereotypes) Confirmation bias promotes information that confirms current judgments Snyder & Swann selected questions that were biased toward confirming hypothesis Scientists biased to confirm existing theory Memory search better for info consistent with current belief
More Cognitive Conservatism
Knew-it-all-along effect Fischhoff subjects first informed of the
correct answer claimed to have known it all along Rewrite memories without registering the occurrence of change
Fear of change
Orwell "to change one's mind, or even
one's policy, is a confession of weakness." Why are we afraid to admit that our opinions have changed? Should it be considered `weak' to change one's mind? Do people differ in cognitive conservatism like they do in political conservatism?
Does the stability of a scientific paradigm
reflect the stability of the ego? Do we shift paradigms with the same reluctance that we change attitudes and let go of stereotypes? Does a stereotypical belief mirror a null hypothesis that requires significant evidence to be rejected?
Is it advantageous?
Do people gain by possessing these
biases? Are people who don't employ biases at a disadvantage? Prolongs the life of an incorrect theory Bandura inflated efficacy expectations may lead to better performance
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