The Psychology of Prejudice

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

Results also show that high-status group members felt more comfortable, satisfied, and happy with their group membership than did low-status group members. Status ascription contributed directly and significantly to the quality of group members' social identity, an effect that SIT predicts. In contrast, group power had virtually no such effect in this study. However, power position was much more predictive of actual discriminatory behavior than social status, a result that corroborates the results presented in this chapter and supports scholars of ethnic relations who consider power differentials between groups as the crucial factor in accounting for discriminatory behaviors ( Jones, 1972; Marger, 1991). Clearly, group power is playing a much more central role within social identity theory than was originally anticipated ( Tajfel & Turner, 1986).

Finally, original SIT formulations anticipated the role of stability and legitimacy in bringing about social change between groups ( Tajfel, 1978; Turner & Brown, 1978). Ongoing laboratory and field research should help uncover the full implications of dominant and subordinate group relations, not only in stable and unstable intergroup relation situations but also in group relations where power and status differentials are perceived to be illegitimate and likely to change ( Bourhis, 1985, 1987b; Ellemers et al., 1990).

The social psychology of intergroup relations has a rich tradition of focusing on the cognitive and motivational processes that account for prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. The laboratory studies presented in this chapter highlight the equally important role of sociostructural factors such as group power, social status, and group numbers in accounting for the dynamics of intergroup perceptions and behaviors. The research agenda of the 1990s must be broadened to a more pluralistic theoretical and empirical approach that integrates cognitive, motivational, and sociostructural factors to better account for manifestations of both prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. This plea for a more pluralistic approach to the study of intergroup relations is not new. Was it not embodied in the classic contribution by Allport ( 1954) in The Nature of Prejudice?


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The research presented in this chapter was made possible thanks to grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded to Richard Y. Bourhis. A version of this chapter was presented at the 7th Ontario Symposium on Personality and Social Psychology: The Psychology of Prejudice, held at the University of Waterloo, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, June 1991.

The author wishes to thank the following individuals for their very useful comments on earlier versions of this chapter: Richard Ashmore, Marilynn Brewer, Rochelle Cole, Alice Eagly, André Gagnon, Léna Céline Moïse, Donald E. Taylor, and Mark Zanna. Comments and suggestions concerning this chapter

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