The Psychology of Prejudice

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

context in which prejudice is manifest. Positive distinctiveness can be achieved in arenas that are independent of outgroup status ( Mummendey & Simon, 1989), and ingroup favoritism does not necessarily imply negative attitudes toward specific outgroups.

Ingroup preference in the absence of outgroup derogation is not necessarily socially benign. Indeed, many discriminatory practices are probably motivated more by positive attitudes toward the ingroup than by the need to establish superiority over outgroups. Territorial battles over the maintenance of existing group boundaries can be quite volatile, in the absence of struggles involving dominance of one group by another. (Relationships among academic disciplines provide an interesting case in point here.) Although competitive orientations may fuel intergroup hostilities, competition is not a necessary condition for prejudice and discrimination.


Prospects for an Integrated Theory: Is There an Elephant?

To return to Fig. 13.1, the distinctions among the six conceptualizations of prejudice have some empirical basis. Affect, cognition, and behavior do seem to represent independent response systems that operate differently at interpersonal and intergroup levels. To the extent that is true, there is some justification for studying each in its own right. But, like the proverbial elephant, prejudice is a complex creature that is more than the sum of its parts. Learning that the trunk is "very like a snake," and the tusk "very like a spear" tells little about how the organism functions as a whole. To fully understand what is going on in Dubuque, one needs to know more about the mechanisms that link shared beliefs with individual information processing, how affective states such as fear and uncertainty influence the accessibility of social stereotypes, and why the forging of distinctive social identities becomes tied to intergroup conflict and hostility. This volume holds promise for how an integrated theory might emerge from the convergence of research traditions.


REFERENCES

Ajzen I. ( 1988). Attitudes, personality, and behavior. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Allport G. W. ( 1954). On the nature of prejudice. New York: Addison-Wesley.

Bargh J. A. ( 1984). "Automatic and conscious processing of social information". In R. S. Wyer and T. K. Srull (Eds.), The handbook of social cognition (Vol. 3, pp. 1-43). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bargh J. A., Chaiken S., Govender R., & Pratto F. ( 1992). "The generality of the automatic attitude activation effect". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 893-912.

Breckler S. J. ( 1984). "Empirical validation of affect, behavior, and cognition as distinct components of attitude". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1191-1205.

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