For the Global Thinker

Tuesday, November 23, 2010



But if the brain is so efficient at categorization, why doesn't experience correct inaccurate stereotypes?

Before answering that question, it is important to note that we may not be exposed to very much experience in our daily life that would contradict our stereotypes. For example, residential segregation keeps the home lives of different racial groups separate to some degree. But also, our stereotypes of other groups ("out groups") often lead to feelings of anxiety when we encounter the members of an out group. One of the oldest insights of psychology is that a main way we deal with anxiety is through avoidance: We simply avoid contact with individuals by crossing the street, turning our heads, talking to someone else, hiring someone else for a job, striking up friendships with someone else we feel more comfortable with, sitting down at the lunch table with those who seem to be more like us.

Returning to the question of why stereotypes persist in the face of contradictory experience, we find two main answers. The first is that because stereotypes may help us feel better about ourselves, we avoid challenging these stereotypes. In other words, we become defensive and protective of our worldviews and only reluctantly question our deepest assumptions. And these worldviews help protect not only our self-esteem, but also real-world privileges and benefits that accrue to us as members of an in group. For example, racist discrimination by banks that hurts African American communities by limiting mortgages to these areas also benefits White neighborhoods by making more money available to them. Discrimination which in the past has limited slots available to...

Read more: http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/brochures/racism.aspx

No comments: