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Discussion- WK6- PSYC3007

The Psychology of Prejudice and Prejudice Reduction

This course finishes by looking at one of the oldest and more important topics
in the study of influence and persuasion—the psychology of stereotyping,
prejudice, and discrimination. Consider, first, some definitions: Prejudice is
defined as holding negative beliefs about a group and its individual members.
Stereotypes, in contrast, are the beliefs people hold about a group and its
individual members. Whereas prejudice is considered to be a negative attitude,
stereotypes can be positive or negative. You will learn from the readings that
prejudice and stereotypes can influence behavior independently of each other.
For example, it is possible to hold negative stereotypes about a group and its
members, but not necessarily hate or dislike them. Even people who are low in
prejudice toward a group can hold negative stereotypes about the group and,
under some conditions, rely on their knowledge of negative stereotypes to form
an impression of a target individual. Finally, discrimination is negative
behavior toward a group and its individual members. As you know, prejudiced
attitudes can guide discriminatory behavior, but they may do so outside of
awareness when the negative attitude is implicit. Thus, much of the study of
prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination is based on what you already know
about the relationship between attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. But changing
intergroup biases like prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination requires a
thorough understanding of why people are biased and how they maintain their
attitudes and beliefs. After you read about the causes of prejudice,
stereotyping, and discrimination, you will examine the different ways in which
these biases can be reduced.

To prepare for this Discussion:

• Read all of Chapter 11 in the course text, Persuasion: Psychological Insights
and Perspectives. As you do, think about your own prejudices and stereotypes,
and also about the prejudices and stereotypes expressed by people you know.

• Think about how the text describes the process of categorization and why it
might cause you to use stereotypes when you form an impression of an
individual. Think about why stereotyping is useful but also harmful when you
interact with someone or evaluate his or her potential. How can you avoid using

• Reflect on how the need to maintain a positive group identity and high
self-esteem motivate people you know to harbor negative attitudes and beliefs
about a group and its individual members. Can you think of a way to make
prejudice less rewarding for them, or make it irrelevant to self-esteem and
social identity needs, in order to reduce their biases?

• Consider whether you know anybody whose prejudice stems from pent-up,
displaced aggression. Also consider whether you know anyone who grew up in an
authoritarian household and, as a result, holds strong conservative beliefs and
is overly submissive to authority. Think about whether it is possible to
persuade them that the group they dislike is not the reason for their
frustration or does not threaten their conservative beliefs.

• Think about the role that competition and perceptions of relative deprivation
play in the prejudices held by people you know. Can you reduce their biases by
educating them about the perceived conflict or their comparison to the disliked

• Consider the morality of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Think
about how you would react if someone pointed out that something you said
violated the values of freedom and equality. Are there other ways to confront
people without making them feel angry or guilty? See if you can think of recent
books, films, or other media that cause people to reflect on the morality of
prejudice and as a result, change their negative attitudes and beliefs about a
group and its members.

• Reflect on the conditions under which intergroup contact can reduce prejudice
described in Table 11.1. Does the research lead you to believe that if
carefully structured, contact between groups can reduce their dislike for each

• Compare and contrast symbolic, aversive, and ambivalent racism. Think about
what Devine’s dissociation model adds to the understanding of prejudice.

• The idea of implicit attitudes was introduced in Week 2 of the course. Think
about how the study of implicit stereotypes and prejudice is related and how
positive thinking and just saying no to stereotypes can change implicit

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 brief description of someone you know who is prejudiced against a
group and its individual members. Explain the negative stereotypes and/or
attitudes that this person holds toward the group and the degree to which the
biases are explicit or implicit. Then, using the theories in the textbook,
explain why you think this individual developed his or her biases against the
group. Finally, suggest a way to reduce his or her biases.

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