It's Not Just What You Think,
It's Also How You Think: Prejudice
as Biased Information Processing
Patrick T. Vargas
University of Illinois
University of Michigan
William von Hippel
University of New South Wales
Prejudice has traditionally been conceptualized as negative attitudes toward members of an out group that are based on stereotypes and beliefsconcerning that out group. Traditional measures of prejudice tend to reflect this conceptualization in that the y assess individuals' explicit attitudes toward out group members, orissues pertaining to out group members. That is, prejudice has largely been measured interms of what people think about an out group. We have proposed that what people think about a particular group may often differ from how the y think about it(von Hippel, Sekaquaptewa, &Vargas, 1995, 1997). For example, a person may be unwilling to entertain prejudiced explicit attitudes toward a particular group, yet those attitudes may nevertheless influence information processing about individual group members (e. g., White & Harkins, 1995). Thus, measures of how people think about out group membersmight fruitfully assess the stereotypic biases that peopleshow when the yprocess information about the se groups. Furthermore, the se biases in information processing have the potential to influence both cognitive and behavioral responses to out group members.
Before furtherdiscussing the current perspective on prejudice assessment, we believe itmay be usefulfor us to brieflyreview moretraditional work inthis domain.