The Psychology of Prejudice

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

stereotyped targets their desires for a self-determined self-presentation, they make it more likely that such targets will successfully challenge perceivers' stereotypic assumptions.

Thus, although the present framework was conceptualized independently of the intergroup contact literature, it nonetheless makes some of the same predictions. Importantly, given its more explicit focus on underlying psychological states and mechanisms central to the stereotype-tinged interaction process, the present framework helps to explain why contact factors such as cooperative interdependence, equal status, and egalitarian norms have the effects that they do, as well as to suggest somewhat finer-grained intervention strategies.

Of course, the creation of such contact circumstances is no easy task, as students of desegregation already know. Moreover, even when such circumstances are indeed created and perceivers indeed form unbiased impressions of their interaction partners, generalization of these nonstereotypic impressions from the target individual to the target's more general group affiliation is far from guaranteed (see Brewer & Miller, 1984; Cook, 1984; Rothbart & John, 1985; Weber & Crocker, 1983). Nonetheless, learning via social interaction that individual targets of our stereotypes and our prejudices are not as we expect them to be and that they do not always conform to our preconceived notions is a critical, perhaps even necessary, first step toward changing stereotypes and prejudices.

In sum, the purpose of the present chapter is to begin explicating the interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics of stereotype-tinged social interactions. The framework presented here emphasizes the importance of the motivational context in which these interactions occur. It is hoped that the present framework furthers theoretical understanding of these important social encounters. Given the everyday significance of such interactions, I also cannot help but hope that this framework may someday provide even a small contribution toward the creation of more effective contact interventions.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank Mark Zanna, Jim Olson, Jenny Crocker, and the participants and attendees of the Ontario Symposium for their many helpful questions and comments. Preparation of this chapter was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant No. MH45719.


REFERENCES

Allport G. W. ( 1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Andersen S. M., & Bem S. L. ( 1981). "Sex typing and androgeny in dyadic interaction: Individual differences in responsiveness to physical attractiveness." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 74-86.

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