The Maintenance of Stereotypes.

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Although the nature of stereotypes are not essentially negative it has been found that stereotypes of out-group members are more likely to be negative than those of in-group members (Castelli et al. 2005; Perdue, Dovidio, Gurtman & Tyler, 1990). Despite this fact, engaging in stereotyping still occurs. In order to adequately understand why we continue to use stereotypes, when we know of the negativity that can be attached to them, several areas need to be considered. Firstly, in the context of this essay stereotypes need to be defined. Lippman (1922) can be credited for having coined the term as being a set of socially shared representations and beliefs about the characteristics, features and behaviours of members of a group (Lyons & Kashima, 2001). The Social Identity Theory also seeks to define stereotypes (Brown, 2000). Secondly, there are various mechanisms which occur that support the ongoing use and maintenance of stereotypes. In relation to this is priming, which has been found to be an active influence (Rudman & Borgida, 1995; Lepore & Brown, 1997; Blair & Banaji, 1996). More recent research illustrates that stereotyping emerges as a way of simplifying the demands on an individual, a type of cognitive shortcut (Macrae et al., 1994; Clark & Kashima, 2007). Furthermore, stereotypes can be seen as a function of social connectivity and are thus maintained through communication (Lyons & Kashima, 2006; Lyons and Kashima, 2003; Karasawa, Asai & Tanabe, 2007). This essay will attempt to look at the most recent research in the past two decades and investigate the various methods that have been found to support the preservation of stereotypes. One of the key points with Social Identity Theory is that in the very act of categorisation, regardless of group contact, in-group preference is produced (Brown, 2000). This then defines a differentiation from out-group members (2000). This group differentiation can lead to the formation of stereotypes. Individuals seek also to perceive themselves in as optimistic light as possible, in an attempt to establish a positive distinctiveness between the self and other in-group members and between the in-group in comparison with the out-group. This is known as the self-esteem hypothesis (2000). From understanding how stereotypes are formed through the social identity theory, we can see how they are maintained. As found by Perdue, Dovidio, Gurtman, Tyler (1990), priming plays an intricate role in influencing the opinions and judgments of individuals on out-group members. A study conducted by Rudman & Borgida (1995) primed male subjects to sexist female stereotypes through a television commercial in which women were portrayed as sexual objects. It was found that the primed males were more likely to engender women in a sexual fashion, paying more attention to her appearance than to what she was saying. They also responded faster to sexist words pertaining to women (babe and bimbo) than to non-sexist (mother and nurture). In this way, language plays a role in unconsciously priming people to stereotypes. It helps create an in-group versus out-group bias (1990). Impressions of people are also moulded by the names and labels which are applied to them (1990). As found by Perdue et al. (1990) ‘we’, ’us’, ‘ours’ are collective pro-nouns and are thus powerful priming influences in social cognition and perception, subtly characterising evaluative responses towards others and upholding the maintenance of stereotypes. However, in a study carried out by Blair and Banaji (1996) it was found that, although priming in stereotypes is automatically activated, an individual can control and even eliminate the automatic response, such as in gender stereotyping. In fact, it is also the individual’s intentions and cognitive resources that determine the extent to which an individual avoids the influence of such automatic processes. For example, in their study (1996) participants were asked to judge whether a name...
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