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Factors Contributing to the Development of Prejudice

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Factors Contributing to the Development of Prejudice. 1. Ingroups and Outgroups. Gordon Allport (1897–1967) proposed that people tend to belong to or identify with people who are similar to themselves, called an ingroup .

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1 ingroups and outgroups
1. Ingroupsand Outgroups
  • Gordon Allport (1897–1967) proposed that people tend to belong to or identify with people who are similar to themselves, called an ingroup.
  • An outgroup is any group you do not belong to or identify with.
  • People tend to view ingroups more positively than outgroups, due to common membership of the same group. However, people belonging to an outgroup are seen to be less like “us” and more like each other. We therefore are more likely to view them negatively.
2 intergroup conflict
2. Intergroup Conflict
  • People of different groups may compete with each other for jobs, housing, social status (‘standing’), positions of power or even political advantage.
  • This is more likely to lead to prejudice, especially in times of hardship when desired resources are limited.
3 attributions
3. Attributions
  • Process of trying to explain observed behaviour in terms of a particular cause is called attribution.
  • Can be either internal (from within the person) or external (from the environment). If we attribute behaviour to internal factors, we tend to blame one or more characteristics of the person for causing the behaviour.
  • The “fundamental attribution error” and “just world hypothesis” is when people tend to overestimate the influence of personal characteristics and underestimate the influence of the situation they are in when explaining a person's behaviour, and that they deserve what they get.
1 intergroup c ontact
1. Intergroup Contact
  • A) Sustained Contact

Close, prolonged contact of a fairly direct nature (one-on-one or face-to-face) leads to a re-evaluation of incorrect stereotypes about the other group and its members, thereby reducing intergroup stereotyping and prejudice. However, this is not enough on it’s own.

  • B) Mutual Interdependence

Two different groups must have contact that makes them dependent on each other.


C) Superordinate Goals

A goal that cannot be achieved by any one group alone and overrides other existing goals which each group might have (Sherif, 1966).

  • D) Equality of Status

If one group is perceived as being more important or better in some way that is valued by the other group, then the ‘more important’ group would be described as having a higher status than the ‘less important’ group. Conversely, the ‘less important’ group would be described as having a lower status. When the members of both groups perceive their own group and the other group as being equally important, they would be described as having an equality of status.

2 cognitive interventions
2. Cognitive interventions
  • Cognitive intervention involves changing the way in which someone thinks about prejudice.
  • If people can be encouraged to understand others based on their individual characteristics rather than generalising some of their characteristics to stereotype them, then prejudice may be lessened.
visual presentation factors that may reduce prejudice
Visual presentation – factors that may reduce prejudice
  • Prepare a concept map or use another diagram to show the connections between and the interrelatedness of factors that may help to reduce prejudice. An example of a concept map can be found see figure 4.15. You may find it helpful to follow these steps in constructing your concept map.
  • Select a specific type of prejudice; for example, racism, sexism or ageism.
  • From the information in this chapter, make a list of factors that you believe might help to reduce this kind of prejudicial attitude and give an example of how it might be applied to this particular kind of prejudice.
  • Write each factor and its example on a separate small piece of paper like a Post-It note. (This will allow you to move the factors around as you think about the ways they may relate or interact in reducing prejudice.)
  • Arrange the pieces of paper in a layout which you believe best shows the relationship(s) between the factors.
    • Write the specific prejudice in the middle of an A3-size sheet of paper.
    • Place linked factors close to each other and non-linked ones further apart.
    • Rearrange the factors until you are satisfied with their placement (there is no one ‘correct’ answer).
  • Stick the pieces of paper down or write the arrangement on the A3 sheet.
  • Rule lines between linked (related) factors and write on each line what the relationship is. You can use words such as ‘determines’, ‘influences’, ‘interacts’, ‘can lead to’, ‘contributes’, ‘assists’ and ‘reduces’.