The Psychology of Prejudice

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

4
The Role of Mood in the Expression of Intergroup Stereotypes
Victoria M. Esses University of Western Ontario Geoffrey Haddock Mark P. Zanna University of WaterlooWe usually think of the stereotypes we hold as quite stable over time. In contrast, the stereotypes we express at different points in time may vary. Situational constraints, such as contextual cues regarding appropriateness, play a role in this regard ( Dovidio & Gaertner, 1986). However, in addition to monitoring what we say, the stereotypes that come to mind for possible expression at various times may differ. That is, only a subset of our available pool of stereotypes may be accessible at any particular time. One factor that may influence which stereotypes come to mind, and thus the likelihood of their expression, is the mood in which we find ourselves. In particular, when we're in a bad mood, we may find that negative stereotypes are especially likely to come to mind and be expressed.The focus of this chapter is on how mood influences the expression of intergroup stereotypes. We present a model that places the role of mood in the context of an information-processing system. We also describe a series of studies that examine the effect of mood on the expression of ethnic stereotypes. Our interest in this topic was piqued by a set of on-the-street interviews reported in the local newspaper of a small Ontario community ( Boucher, 1987). The question to which residents responded was, "Do you agree with the federal government's new policy restricting the entry of refugees into Canada?" Some typical responses were as follows:
Yes, I've been unemployed for 6 months now. Canada should be a lot stricter in everything. Crime is a real factor in this, too.
Yes, they keep trying to put that juvenile delinquent shelter in our neighborhood. Refugees? We don't need them.

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