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Prejudice

The Varieties Of Prejudice

While prejudiced intergroup attitudes should always involve cognitive, affective, and behavioral expressions in the form of unfavorable stereotypes, feelings of antipathy, and behavioral expressions of prejudice, a somewhat different issue is that of whether different kinds or forms of prejudice exist. This idea originated from research in the United States, which suggested that two different kinds of racism existed there, with one having a more traditional or overt form and the other a newer, more modern, or more subtle form.

Traditional racism and the new racisms.

Several theories have proposed that a new more covert or subtle kind of racism emerged in the United States after the desegregation of the South—a form of racism that supplemented or supplanted an older more traditional form characterized by beliefs in black biological inferiority, white supremacy, and the desirability of segregation and formal discrimination. Some important empirical findings stimulated the emergence of these theories. First, findings indicated that despite survey evidence of sharp declines in whites' racial prejudice after the early 1960s, anti-black discrimination and racial inequality did not show corresponding decreases. Second, many ostensibly nonprejudiced whites expressed strong opposition to policies designed to reduce these inequalities. And third, research also indicated that whites' overtly friendly behavior to blacks or apparently non-prejudiced questionnaire responses could be accompanied by covert negative affect revealed by subtle indicators such as voice tone and seating distance or revealed when they were hooked up to a simulated lie detector (the bogus pipeline technique).

There have been four main approaches to this new racism: symbolic or modern racism, subtle versus blatant prejudice, ambivalent racism, and aversive racism. These four approaches have varied in their conceptualization of this new racism, but their essential features seem similar. The most important of these approaches is that termed symbolic or modern racism by David Sears. It has been described as a blending of antiblack affect with traditional Protestant ethic and conservative values. Thus blacks are disliked because they are seen as violating basic moral values, such as self-reliance, individual responsibility, and the work ethic. The modern racism scale was developed to measure this dimension and has tended to be highly correlated with measures of traditional racism yet factorially distinct from them. Numerous studies have found that the modern racism scale is a markedly more powerful predictor of whites' racial policy preferences and candidate preferences in racialized election campaigns than measures of traditional racism, political preference, or conservative ideology.

The second approach to the new racism was subsequently developed by Pettigrew and Roel Meertens, who constructed a set of scales to measure constructs very similar to symbolic and traditional racism that they have used extensively in European countries to measure prejudice against local minorities and outgroups. Their first component, "blatant prejudice," was assessed by subscales of "threat" and "rejection" and seems essentially equivalent to traditional racism. Their second component, "subtle prejudice," was assessed by three subscales of "defense of traditional values," "exaggeration of cultural differences," and "lack of positive affect," and is clearly similar to symbolic racism.

Third, Irwin Katz and R. Glen Hass took the new versus old racism distinction a step further by suggesting that white Americans' racial attitudes could involve not just a new symbolic or subtle racism but also racial ambivalence. Their findings suggested that many whites could simultaneously hold antiblack and problack attitudes, and the resulting ambivalence could account for highly polarized responses to blacks, with "desirable" behavior by blacks eliciting particularly positive responses and "undesirable" behavior eliciting particularly negative and discriminatory responses.

The fourth approach, that of aversive racism, also emphasizes ambivalence in American whites' attitudes to blacks, though in a somewhat different form. It proposes that most whites acquire egalitarian beliefs and a nonprejudiced self-image at an overt and conscious level. At the same time, however, their exposure to a society characterized by black-white differentiation and inequality generates underlying covert negative feelings to blacks. This ambivalence results in whites generally behaving in an overtly nondiscriminatory manner toward blacks in order to preserve their nonprejudiced self-images while also behaving in a discriminatory manner in more ambiguous situations where the discrimination can be rationalized away or excused.

The concept of new racisms has not been without controversy. Critics have asserted that symbolic racism has been conceptualized and measured inconsistently over time and that the varying themes identified with it have not yet been coherently articulated or adequately measured. It has also been suggested that the "new" racisms are not really different at all but simply more subtle and socially acceptable expressions of the same old racism.

Implicit and explicit prejudice.

During the 1990s the idea of the existence of new forms of prejudice was taken a step further. The distinction was now made between explicit prejudice, operating at a conscious level and therefore including both traditional and modern racisms, and implicit prejudice, which was assumed to be automatically activated by target persons and to operate largely unconsciously.

A variety of measures of implicit prejudice have been used. Some are indirect or covert behavioral indices of prejudice, such as linguistic biases, eye contact, or nonverbal behaviors, which could be subject to intentional control but typically would not be. Others are truly implicit measures of automatic cognitive or physiological responses that cannot readily be intentionally controlled. The most common have been "priming techniques," which measure how quickly positive or negative stereotypes can be activated after individuals are briefly exposed to a group or social category label, and variations of that procedure, such as the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which assesses how strong the temporal association is between a group or social category label and positively or negatively evaluative terms.

It was initially assumed that these implicit measures might provide more accurate information about peoples' real attitudes, but research findings have suggested a more complex picture. Generally whites have shown markedly greater negativity toward blacks on implicit measures of racism than on explicit measures, as would be expected. The difficulty with the concept of implicit prejudice, however, has been that different measures of implicit stereotyping and prejudice have tended to be only weakly correlated with each other, suggesting that they might not be measuring a single dimension at all, and they have also tended to be uncorrelated with explicit measures of prejudice or behavioral indices of discrimination.

One possible reason for the discrepancies between implicit and explicit measures is that they might reflect different response systems. Dovidio et al. have shown that automatically activated implicit evaluative stereotypes predict people's spontaneous interracial reactions (such as eye contact and rate of blinking) but not their more deliberative, controlled interracial judgments or behaviors (overtly expressed attitudes, interview evaluations, or judgments of guilt in simulated court cases). Explicit prejudice measures such as the modern racism scale on the other hand predicted deliberative responses but not spontaneous reactions.

Two theories of prejudice have been used to explain why there might be considerable discrepancies between individuals in their explicit and implicit prejudice against a particular group. Both suggest this discrepancy might arise from individuals acquiring values that motivate them to attempt to control prejudiced attitudes or stereotypes that were acquired earlier in socialization and that are therefore automatically activated by target persons. However, the nature of the values and motives proposed by the two theories differ in certain crucial respects. The theory of aversive racism suggests that many whites have underlying, covert racist attitudes but adopt and express egalitarian attitudes at an overt level in order to maintain a self-image of themselves as nonprejudiced and egalitarian. Because of their covert racism, they will act in discriminatory ways in situations in which they can rationalize or excuse it and will do so without guilt. Patricia Devine's theory suggests that whites acquire negative stereotypes of blacks during socialization. Later some whites come to internalize explicitly antiracist values, which are genuine and deeply held. As a result, their underlying and automatically activated prejudiced reactions engender guilt and are therefore inhibited whenever they are under conscious control.

These theories, and most of the research on implicit prejudice, have assumed that implicit prejudice and stereotypes are stable evaluative orientations that are automatically activated in response to stigmatized group members. Recent research, however, has shown that implicit prejudices seem to be malleable and fluid and to vary markedly in response to situational cues and motivational influences. Andrew Karpinski and James Hilton have therefore suggested that implicit attitudes reflect the evaluative associations with out-groups that people have been exposed to in their environment and not the degree to which they endorse these associations. One implication of this is that because these "implicit" associations have not been consciously articulated and organized in "explicit" form, the actual evaluative out-group associations elicited in any situation may be markedly influenced by the nature of the activating cues, procedures, and situation. This could explain the variability in implicit prejudice across situations and measuring techniques and the weak correlations between different implicit measures and between them and explicit measures of prejudice.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Positive Number to Propaganda - World War IiPrejudice - Prejudice: Social Problem, Or Problem Concept, The Structure Of Intergroup Attitudes, The Varieties Of Prejudice