Motivation and emotion/Book/2016/Prejudice and emotion
How does emotion contribute to prejudice?
Overview[edit | edit source]
Prejudice is an important issue in understanding discrimination, and a growing field of research is investigating the extent to which emotions can play a role in contributing to and predicting prejudice. In this chapter, we will examine the theoretical background of emotion in prejudice, stemming from a branch of social identity theory, known as intergroup emotions theory. The extent to which this theoretical background is supported by research is examined, as well as the ability of emotion to predict prejudice. The interaction between stereotyping, prejudice, and emotion are also investigated, as well as the implications for this field of research in understanding prejudice.
What is prejudice?[edit | edit source]
Definition[edit | edit source]
Prejudice involves negative judgments about a group and its related members (Myers, 2014). Early prejudice theory classified prejudice as antipathy directed towards a group or its individual members (Allport, 1954, as cited in Brown, 2011). Brown (2011) noted that many definitions of prejudice emphasise prejudice as an incorrect judgement and criticises this inclusion as based in subjective evaluations. Furthermore, Brown argues for the identification of indirectly negative intergroup attitudes as a core aspect of prejudice, pointing out that often attitudes of dominant groups are benevolently discriminatory. Thus, Brown (2011) revises the definition of prejudice to denote that "any attitude, emotion or behaviour towards members of a group, which directly or indirectly implies some negativity or antipathy towards that group" (p. 7).
Impact of prejudice[edit | edit source]
The importance in investigating prejudice lies in the ramifications for stigmatised groups, as minority groups experience a number of negative outcomes that relate to prejudice. Same-sex attracted individuals, for example, face a disproportionately high prevalence of psychiatric disorders in comparison to the general population (Gilman et al., 2001). Meyer (2003) proposes a minority stress model in relation to this, arguing that continued prejudice and stigmatisation directed at sexually diverse individuals results in a higher rate of adverse mental health outcomes. Racism has shown a number of negative effects: Williams and Williams-Morris (2000) report strong correlation between racial discrimination and adverse psychiatric outcomes; Aboriginal Australians report poor health at double the rate of Non-Aboriginal respondents, in addition to experiencing a high level of racially based negative treatment (Larson, Gillies, Howard & Coffin, 2007); furthermore, evidence supports bias in employment opportunities for racial minorities: Bertrand and Mullainathan (2004) found that job applications with names identifiable as African-American received half the number of call-backs as applications using White names.
Social identity theory and prejudice[edit | edit source]
Social identity theory plays a large role in the conceptualisation of prejudice. Tajful and Turner (1979) proposed that individuals categorise themselves into social groups, identifying with some, known as ingroups, and differentiating from others, known as outgroups. Prejudice, then, is a byproduct of ingroup bias: a sense of belonging with an ingroup leads to a tendency to discriminate against the outgroup (Trepte, 2006); Tajful and Turner (1979) note that the mere categorisation of an individual as between two groups is oftentimes enough to encourage bias and discriminatory behaviour towards the outgroup. For example, Fazio, Jackson, Dunton and Williams (1995) measured implicit racial bias in white participants, and found that a higher level of implicit outgroup bias correlated significantly with a reduction in friendliness, eye-contact and smiling when interacting with a non-white experimenter. Social identity theory, it seems, plays a role in the formation and expression of prejudice.
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Early research determined that prejudicial attitudes were fortified by emotions (Cooper, 1959). Since then, the way in which emotion interacts with prejudice has been extensively researched. Smith (1993, as cited in Mackie & Hamilton, 2014) proposed a new conceptualisation of prejudice as social emotion. Smith criticised previous evaluations of prejudice as limited: a focus on only attitude formation and stereotyping, Smith suggests, leads to an oversimplication of prejudice differentiation: attitudes of hostility and threat towards an outgroup are considered in the same vein as attitudes relating to disgust; furthermore, the influence of emotional reactions is largely overlooked.
To address these considerations, Smith proposes that prejudice is the result of emotional appraisals and ensuing actions, dependent on the individual's social identity: intergroup interaction triggers an emotional response based upon the appraisal of the situation by the perceiver in relation to the ingroup. Let us look at an example scenario: a self-categorised taxpayer, George, becomes angry and resentful at the sight of a person who receives welfare, Sarah, buying an expensive phone. "I pay my taxes," George mumbles to himself. "Why don't I get money to buy expensive things?"
In Australia, the term "dole-bludger" is commonly used as a means to describe a person perceived to be living undeservedly from welfare support: Archer (2009) notes that the term is directly oppositional to "taxpayer", and forms an antithesis to the working population. Tajful and Turner's (1979) social identity theory can be seen quite clearly here: the ingroup, being taxpayers, are differentiated from the outgroup, the dole-bludgers. In adopting Smith's conceptualisation of prejudice, animosity between taxpayers and dole-bludgers may be explained by the perceived impact it has on the ingroup: the taxpayer sees a person on welfare buying an expensive item — this acts as the intergroup interaction — and becomes angry (emotional response) because they perceive the reception of welfare as unjust to those who pay taxes (appraisal). The foundation of oneself in a social group interacts with the way emotional responses are triggered (Fiske, 2000): in the case of George and Sarah, George becomes angry at the thought of Sarah's social group (welfare recipients) taking resources from his social group (the taxpayer). Essentially, the way in which prejudice is formed relates to the emotions triggered by appraisals of intergroup interactions.
Intergroup emotions theory[edit | edit source]
Developed from the assertions put forward by Smith (1993, as cited in Mackie & Hamilton, 2014), intergroup emotions theory proposes that emotion is produced through social identity, and as such is a group-based process (Mackie, Devos & Smith, 2000). The basis of intergroup emotions theory lies in social identity theory; namely, that the ingroup are defined by the presence of an outgroup. The premise of intergroup emotions theory, however, is in viewing emotions as functional reactions to the salience of a social identity: the group as an extension of an individual's sense of self leads to emotional reactions triggered by the implications of a situation for the ingroup (Mackie, Maitner & Smith, 2009). Thus, intergroup emotions are the result of identification with a social group in relation to the ingroup-outgroup dynamics asserted by social identity theory (Liu & Zuo, 2010). Rather than the traditional view of prejudice as the result of attitudes and stereotyping, intergroup emotions theory seeks to explain prejudice an emotion, triggered through the experience of intergroup discord, with discrimination as a reactionary behaviour (Mackie & Smith, 2002).
The theory proposes two distinct precursors for the production of intergroup emotions: self-categorisation, and intergroup appraisals.
Self-categorisation[edit | edit source]
A primary assumption of intergroup emotions theory is the extension of the self as a member of a social category. While we are individuals, we are also members of numerous social groups. Environmental cues trigger this self-identification: for example, hearing a racial slur may lead a person to self-categorise in relation to their racial identity (Mackie, Maitner & Smith, 2009). Self-categorisation as a particular social group predicts the way intergroup emotions are experienced (Mackie & Smith, 2002), and the implications for this phenomena on the perpetuation of emotion are immense.
Ray, Mackie, Rydell and Smith (2008) investigated the impact of social identity salience on emotions in college students: when participants were led to think of themselves as "American", they experienced higher levels of anger and diminished respect for the Muslim population, as opposed to when their identity as a student was made salient. When American identity was made salient in relation to police, participants experienced a higher level of respect and diminished anger, compared to student identity salience.
Essentially, intergroup emotions are differentiated depending upon the self-categorisation of an individual: in the above research, categorisation of the self as American induced negative emotions regarding Muslims. The authors theorise that this change in social emotion is related to the appraisal of the outgroup in terms of the present-categorisation: perceived conflict between Americans and Muslims led to an appraisal of Muslims as harmful; in the case of students and Muslims, there is little historical relationship of conflict (Ray, Mackie, Rydell & Smith, 2008).
Intergroup appraisals[edit | edit source]
Emotional appraisal theories purport that the way in which situations are appraised determines the elicitation of emotional responses (Roseman & Smith, 2001). Thus, it is an individual's perception of a situation that predicts emotional response (Siemer, Gross & Mauss, 2007). Intergroup emotions theory broadly borrows from these theories, in that emotions are elicited as a response to a situation based on an individual's perception of the implications for their salient social identity. While emotional appraisal theories are individual focused, intergroup appraisals address the impact of these responses in a social context (Mackie, Maitner & Smith, 2009).
An individual incorporates the ingroup as part of the self. In this situation, implications for the relevant social group elicit emotions even when the individual is not personally affected (Mackie & Smith, 2002). Smith (1993, as cited in Mackie & Hamilton, 2014) suggests that appraisals refer both to the target, or the outgroup, as well as the implications for the self in regards to its integration with the ingroup. Emotion elicitation, then, becomes somewhat dependent on the context in which the reaction occurs: as perceptions will differ depending on factors relative to the presented situation, certain outgroups and situations will induce specific appraisal patterns, and thus, vary the way in which emotion is experienced by the ingroup member (Mackie, Maitner & Smith, 2009).
Research supports this effect: Tapias, Glaser, Keltner, Vasquez and Wickens (2006) found that emotional reactions towards outgroups were dependent upon the type of social group. Participants displayed higher levels of fear and anxiety in relation to African Americans, but showed more disgust when gay men were presented as the social group. Cottrell and Neuberg (2005) suggest such differences in emotion are related to the appraisal of threat: prejudiced attitudes towards African Americans are related to fear for physical safety, while attitudes to gay men invoke contamination threat appraisals, given the association with HIV, and promote a disgust response. Interestingly, in Cottrell and Neuberg's (2005) study, levels of prejudice felt towards presented outgroups remained relatively similar, despite the variation in underlying emotional reactions, suggesting that traditional measures of prejudice may obscure the extent to which emotional reactions to outgroups vary.
In light of the above theory, prejudice can be understood as a phenomenon formed through social identity (Mackie & Smith, 2002). The question remains, then, as to how this is predicted by emotions.
Emotion as a predictor of prejudice[edit | edit source]
Predictive qualities of prejudice have often been conceptualised as a combination of stereotyping and beliefs resulting in discriminatory behaviour (Dovidio, Hewstone, Glick & Esses, 2010). These factors, however, are often difficult to empirically validate: for example, Kraus (1995) notes that while attitudes are generally predictive of behaviour, this relationship is complex and often obscured by other variables, making the relationship difficult to quantify. Examining emotion in relation to prejudice, however, seems to partially solve this conundrum. Cuddy, Fiske and Glick (2007) examined the influence of stereotypes and emotion on behaviours towards groups and found evidence to suggest that emotions carry a far greater predictive value in behaviour than do stereotypes. This evidence is further supported by Talaska, Fiske and Chaiken (2008), who, using meta-analyses, found prejudicial emotion to be correlated with discriminatory behaviour at twice the rate of both stereotyping and attitudes. The above evidence is congruent with Mackie and Smith's (2002) assertion that discriminatory behaviour is the result of emotions triggered through intergroup interactions.
Interaction of emotion and prejudice[edit | edit source]
In understanding emotion as a predictor of prejudice, it is necessary to investigate the various ways the two interact. There is evidence to suggest that emotion can actually produce prejudice, despite none previously having existed. Using a bogus personality test to create two categories, DeSteno, Dasgupta, Barlett and Cajdric (2004) created ingroups and outgroups by randomly assigning participants to one of the two categories and reminding them of their group membership through the usage of wristbands. When participants were then stimulated to feel anger, the outcome was an automatic formation of prejudice towards the outgroup. When exposed to sadness, or simple neutrality, participants showed no prejudicial attitudes towards the outgroup, suggesting that intergroup appraisals are related to the specific type of emotion elicited (DeSteno, Dasgupta, Barlett & Cajdric, 2004).
Dasgupta, DeSteno, Williams and Hunsinger (2009) expanded upon this research, making several key observations: first, in unknown outgroups, where preconceived notions do not exist, both anger and disgust were effective in creating implicit bias. If groups were known, emotion only elicited prejudice if the emotion was related to the primary stereotype of a particular group. For example, the research found that while anger did not increase bias against homosexuals, disgust elicitation did. The authors theorise that this result is due to the social function of each emotion: where a social group is unknown, emotions like anger of disgust may increase awareness of potential threats; conversely, where a group is already known, inducing an emotion unrelated to the salient stereotype provides little functional use in determining potential threats (Dasgupta, DeSteno, Williams & Hunsinger, 2009). Thus, the threat posed by gay men is often one of contamination, as suggested by Cottrell and Neuberg (2005), eliciting a disgust reaction. Once again, this is consistent with intergroup emotions theory in viewing emotions as functional reactions to intergroup interactions (Mackie, Maitner & Smith, 2009): intergroup appraisals lead to an increase in bias only when the elicited emotion was relevant to the situational context.
Stereotyping and emotion[edit | edit source]
Clearly stereotyping plays a role in the elicitation of prejudicial behaviours. Intergroup emotions theory argues for the functional role of emotions towards salient group identities (Mackie, Maitner & Smith, 2009). Emotions like anger and disgust are directed by the associated notions existing about a specific social group: for example, as Cottrell and Neuberg (2005) suggest, individuals are more likely to feel disgust towards gay men than anger, due to the inherent HIV stereotype related to homosexuality. If stereotyping relates to prejudice, it is important, then, to examine the extent to which stereotypes are related to emotions.
Emotion has been shown to exacerbate stereotyping. Bodenhausen, Sheppard and Kramer (1994) examined the role of two emotions in stereotypic judgement: anger and sadness. Results showed that in a social perception task, participants in whom anger was elicited displayed a higher level of stereotyped judgements than did sad or neutral participants. Interestingly, sadness also interacted with stereotypic judgement, in the reverse: sad participants were more likely to disagree with stereotypes presented, even when the source was considered credible. While the researchers could not provide a definitive answer as to why this difference occurs, they hypothesised that anger may produce a greater reliance in heuristic cues in order to respond to a threatening situation more quickly. Such a suggestion may be linked back to intergroup appraisals: the elicitation of anger may be evocative of stereotyping more so than sadness due to the functional role of the emotion in intergroup relations; the following section examines such an interaction.
Stereotype content model and the BIAS map[edit | edit source]
Two theoretical models provide some insight into the effects of emotion on stereotyping. The Stereotype Content Model proposes that stereotypes provide intergroup functions and may be categorised into two dimensions: competence and warmth. These generate emotions of pity, envy, admiration or contempt, depending on the interaction between competence and warmth stereotypes for a particular outgroup (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick & Xu, 2002). The model proposes that intergroup appraisals lead to an evaluation of the potential harm threatened by an outgroup; thus, groups stereotyped as high in warmth and competence often invoke admiration; groups perceived as low in warmth and competence elicit disgust. Furthermore, groups that invoke a mixed-pattern such as high competence and low warmth, may elicit emotions of envy.
Cuddy, Fiske and Glick (2007) further this research by proposing the BIAS Map, examining the relationship of the warmth-competence dichotomy in relation to behavioural tendencies. The essential findings of this study were that warmth stereotypes elicited active behaviours, with low warmth predicting active harm, while high warmth predicted active facilitation; additionally, competence stereotypes provoked passive behaviours: a low competence appraisal elicited passive harm (i.e. neglect), while a high competence appraisal predicted passive facilitation.
The researchers found that, while these stereotypes impacted intergroup behaviour, this relationship was moderated by emotions. For example, where admiration or pity was felt, active facilitation was higher; conversely, anger moderated both active facilitation and active harm: where anger was invoked, active facilitation was lower, while active harm was higher (Cuddy, Fiske & Glick, 2007). Thus, different stereotyping produces different behaviour tendencies, but these actions are heavily moderated by the accompanying emotion.
Emotion in prejudice reduction[edit | edit source]
The extent to which prejudice reduction is moderated by emotion is an important consideration in the overall effect of emotion on prejudice. Intergroup contact has long been investigated in reducing intergroup conflict (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2000), however evidence suggests even this method is mediated by emotion. In examining forgiveness in Northern Ireland, Tam et al. (2007) found that eliciting positive emotions did not decrease prejudice; anger, however, greatly moderated the effects of intergroup contact: the emotion effectively decreased the extent to which prejudice was reduced. Seger, Park, Banerji, Smith, and Mackie (2011) examined individual emotions in the reduction of prejudice and determined that admiration and anger were highly related to the impact of contact on prejudice reduction: namely, a decrease in anger alongside an increase in admiration for an outgroup was predictive of a reduction in prejudice. The part of admiration in particular is consistent with the aforementioned BIAS map which found that admiration predicted active facilitation. Thus, the role of anger in impeding prejudice reduction can be clearly viewed, and to some extent there is evidence for emotions such as admiration in mediating prejudice.
Conclusion[edit | edit source]
Emotion contributes to prejudice. Applying social identity theory, Smith (1993, as cited in Brown, 2011) suggests that prejudice is the result of emotional appraisals of an intergroup interaction, predominantly accounted for by the perceived implications of an ingroup member for their social group. Intergroup emotions theory expands upon these assumptions by providing a framework for their occurrence: prejudice is considered an emotion on its own, triggered by intergroup discord (Mackie & Smith, 2002) as a result of self-categorisation and intergroup appraisals. Emotion plays a significant part in prejudice, both as a reaction to intergroup interactions (Ray, Mackie, Rydell & Smith, 2008), as well as a direct predictor of prejudice formation, such as the role of anger in the production of prejudice in groups where non previously existed (DeSteno, Dasgupta, Barlett & Cajdric, 2004; Dasgupta, DeSteno, Williams & Hunsinger, 2009) Emotions more significantly predict prejudice than either stereotypes or attitudes. Moreover, the influence of stereotyping on behaviour is directly mediated by emotion, as can be seen in the stereotype content model as well as the BIAS map. Evidence also suggests that emotions of anger and admiration may play a mediating part in the reduction of prejudice. Emotion arising from intergroup interactions can influence prejudice.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
Bertrand, M., & Mullainathan, S. (2004). Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination. The American Economic Review, 94(4), 991-1013.
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Brown, R. (2011). Prejudice: Its social psychology. John Wiley & Sons.
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Approaches to reducing prejudice: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Approaches_to_prejudice_reduction
Social identity theory overview: http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html