Short Essay Questions
1. What are minimal groups? How does group membership lead to prejudice and discrimination?
The minimal group is a bond of commonality, positive or negative, where relationships, of even an arbitrary or inconsequential nature, within the group can influence attitudes and subsequent behaviors. Membership in such groups often produces the strongest forms of prejudice and discrimination. At a base level college rivalries serve as good examples of how groups can become biased toward the in-group (members) even when such behavior is overt and contrary to an individual’s normal standard for formulating judgments. The reasons for such memberships are primarily related to self-esteem. Our need for acceptance drives us to belong and to uncritically follow group mentalities and behaviors, especially when such self-esteem is tied to winning.
Ultimately participation in such groups leverages influence, though often benign, due to the nature of the group’s common connection, but even when benign such groups are able to swing behavior in profound ways. For example, a college sports fan that is normally reserved and non-aggressive can be uncharacteristically out of control, potentially criminal amongst the tide of the group mentality, even developing unwarranted discriminatory attitudes towards anyone who attended a rival’s school.
2. What is modern racism, and how is it studied?
Aronson, Wilson and Akert define modern racism as outwardly acting unprejudiced while maintaining prejudiced attitudes. They see it as a softened expression rather than reality. For example, no longer are the risks inherent in the public exhibition of racism promulgated by bigots. They are often veiled in rationalized responses that promote their underlying bias without calling attention to or exposing the real root of their motivations. School desegregation in Raleigh, NC right now has become a battle over a busing issue that many would say is really about disguised racism.
Now no one who wants extensive busing route changes will agree that the motivations are racial, and to some extend that may be true. But distinguishing between the relevancies of race bias is very difficult to determine. And, the issues involved are complicated enough that it is almost impossible to correlate with exactitude to what extend such ulterior motive might influence the participants involvement and zeal.
Considering the complications often involved in modern prejudice the most effective studies should be subtle and unobtrusive. The “bogus pipeline” experiment is a good example of how to study such modern prejudices. By using inference the studies methods allowed the researchers to pressurize the responses (for fear of discovery) from participants and ultimately realize better depth understanding of the attitudes involved, eloquently demonstrating the capacity to which they might go to conceal such unpopular viewpoints.
3. What is stereotype threat, and what are the consequences of stereotype threat? Be sure to provide an example to illustrate your point.
Stereotype threat occurs when a member of a group exhibits a behavior, confirming a previously defined cultural label. The consequences of stereotype threat are pinned to the anxiety that comes from such negative labeling. The underlying implication that a group member’s performance will reflect on all other members will increase pressure, can decrease performance and inhibit participation to avoid such strain.
This has been succinctly illustrated in studies that use the context of conditions to identify the effects of stereotyping. For instance, the performance of blacks and whites in a game of miniature golf are shown to be measurably different when the context of the game is explained as “sport strategic intelligence” versus “natural athletic ability.” Given the amount of stereotyping that society reflects, the importance of...