Social Biases: Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
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Running head: SOCIAL BIASES Social Biases Doyle O. Welborn University of Phoenix Social Biases The concept of social bias is more pervasive in our society than most people realize. Research in the field of social psychology reveals that social bias prevents mutually beneficial interaction among people. This problem could be detrimental to ingroup cohesion, intergroup cooperation, and the success of society. This paper will define the concept of social bias, explain subtle and blatant biases, describe the impact of bias, and evaluate strategies to overcome social biases. Defining the Terminology Social bias occurs in at least three forms: stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination (Fiske, 2004). These forms of social bias are a category-based response which is correlated but not redundant (Fiske, 2004). Category-based responses are typically clearly defined, negative, and directed at members of an individual's outgroup. These responses can be separated into three aspects: cognitive, affective, and behavioral (Fiske, 2004). Stereotyping is Cognitive Stereotypes are cognitive structures which people use to organize the characteristics or attributes related to groups of people and the functioning interactions of those various characteristics (Fiske, 2004). People use stereotypes to apply the characteristics of a group to an individual in the group.
Subliminal cues automatically categorize people into groups and influence contrived conclusions. These cues influence people's perceptions, cognitions, affect, and behaviors. Two methods demonstrating automatic bias are priming methods, which use group identifying words to prime participants for ingroup words that follow, and simultaneous associations, which associate positive words with a participant's ingroup. Having this type of automatic bias does not necessarily mean that someone agrees with it. An individual may be culturally aware of the bias but disagree with a personal belief in the bias. Ambiguous Subtle prejudice can be ambiguous, being hidden in responses that are abstract, unclear, vague and difficult to pinpoint (Fiske, 2004). Often the responses are ambiguous in terms of the speed of the response or the kinds of nonverbal cues that a participant displays. These items are difficult to interpret and lend themselves to ambiguity. The reason for the ambiguity could be because an individual is attempting to hide racist behaviors that are incongruous with stated beliefs. Ambivalent Social bias can also be manifested in racial ambivalence (Fiske, 2004). When an individual has both positive and negative feelings for a member of another group, the ambivalence causes the individual's beliefs to be dramatically unstable.
Because prejudice is primarily an emotional response, forming emotional bonds through intergroup contact and cooperation can help overcome negative social bias. Authority Sanction Understanding that the powers in existence have authorized the equal status, common goals, intergroup contact, and cooperation of an intergroup collaboration, people can feel at ease in working together to overcoming obstacles. Feeling at ease helps people to learn more about one another's true characteristics, ignoring previous stereotypes while remaining open to change. The authority to work together is a powerful force in society. Working together, people can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Conclusion Social bias in the form of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination affects thoughts, feelings, and behaviors respectively. Those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be changed by understanding that subtle bias is cool, indirect, automatic, ambiguous, and ambivalent. Social bias directly impacts the lives of individuals by facilitating ingroup cohesion, creating a strong sense of belonging, and improving interaction through self-fulfilling prophecies. When subtle bias occurs, people struggle to overcome the internal conflict which, if not resolved, can impact an individual's psychological health and the health of society. Social bias can be overcome through positive intergroup contact. The process of overcoming social bias is a worthwhile endeavor which will require commitment to change on the part of social psychologists and individuals, open-minded intergroup contact, and cooperation throughout the world.
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