The Psychology of Prejudice

By Mark P. Zanna; James M. Olson | Go to book overview

3
Implicit Stereotyping and Prejudice

Mahzarin R. Banaji Yale University Anthony G. Greenwald University of Washington

The world Gordon Allport wrote about in The Nature of Prejudice provided impressive illustrations of prejudice and discrimination--of lynchings and the KKK, of religious persecution and Nazism, of political repression and McCarthyism. In contemporary American society, such overt expressions are vastly diminished, although even superficial analyses reveal that disturbing expressions of prejudice and resulting inequities are pervasive. All sciences of society recognize that inequities in access to human rights and justice significantly track demarcations of social categories (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic class, religion), and conspicuous challenges to barriers that preserve systems of discrimination have recently been proposed (see, Galbraith, 1983; MacKinnon, 1989; Sen, 1985; Thompson, 1992).

In approaching the 21st century, it is timely for social psychology to define and, as necessary, refine the theoretical, empirical, and applied considerations of research on the nature of prejudice. One such refinement, we believe, is the exploration of the unconscious'1 operation of stereotyped beliefs, prejudicial attitudes, and discriminatory behavior. With greater ease than the social psychologist of Allport's time, contemporary social psychologists can identify and ap

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1
Terminology. The term unconscious is used to refer to processes or events of which the actor is unaware. Two senses of the term unconscious have been identified to refer to (a) processes that occur outside of attention (preattentive) and (b) processes that are unreportable or not accurately reportable (see Bargh, 1989; Greenwald, 1992). In this chapter, it is largely the second sense of the term unconscious that is invoked in our discussions of implicit stereotyping and discrimination. We borrow the term implicit from recent research on memory in which that term describes effects attributed to unreportable residues of prior experiences (see Richardson-Klavehn & Bjork, 1988; Roediger, 1990; Schacter, 1987).

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