Taking ONE of the following hypothetical situations, where inter-group prejudice is likely to occur, briefly describe the possible causes of prejudice and possible negative outcomes of its existence. Critically discuss at least two possible interventions which may lead to its reduction. a) Groups of fans of rival premiership football teams within the same UK city b) Pupils from rival secondary schools within the same UK city. Prejudice is an attitude that consists of three components: emotional, cognitive and behavioural. Although there are positive and negative attitudes, negative ones are more pronounced.
Prejudice leads to stereotypes which are generalisations about certain groups. For example Deaux and Emsweiler (1974; as cited in Hogg & Vaughan, 2008) discovered that women’s successes were more likely to be attributed to luck rather than their abilities. Once stereotypes are held, it is challenging to change them in order to shift public’s opinions. Richards and Hewstone (2012), in their experiment promoting stereotype change, discovered that when a participant was provided with examples that contradicted stereotypes, there was no effect in their thinking, sometimes stereotypes were even strengthened.
Later when participants were bombarded with examples there was only a slight effect. However, although this study shows that it might be counterproductive to shift thinking patterns, it still presents the evidence for attitude change. It might be interesting to conduct a longitudinal study which would promote stereotype change and see if results would differ. According to Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979; as cited in Hogg & Vaughan, 2008) intergroup prejudice occurs due to low self-esteem.
This motivates group members to derogate those who do not belong to the group and these actions lead to increased self-esteem and positive view about oneself and the group. In addition The Autistic Hostility Hypothesis proposed by Newcomb (1947; as cited in Thibaut & Kelley, 1986) claims that dislike towards someone or a group leads to avoidance which prevents a subject from changing their attitude which becomes maintained. We, humans, have a need for closure therefore it is crucial for us to develop explanations that make sense.
This theory supports this view – if one desired to change their attitude, it would require more cognitive effort and results would not necessarily have to be straightforward, thus it is simpler to preserve stereotypical beliefs. Stereotypes and prejudice lead to discrimination which can be harmful to minorities. For example Bond et al (1988; as cited in Aronson et al. , 2007) found that white psychiatric staff treated black patients differently to white ones even though white patients were slightly more aggressive than black ones.
After five weeks staff treated them equally. This means that it is possible to change attitudes. However, the study mainly focused on signs of prejudice and evidence presenting it (discriminating black patients); therefore it is crucial to promote its reduction. Prejudice is inevitable as we process information surrounding us. Firstly, humans create groups which allow them to distinguish between in-group members and out-group members. These categories help us see similarities and differences more clearly (downplayed with in-groups and exaggerated with out-groups).
In the hypothetical situation proposed ‘pupils from rival secondary schools within the same UK city’, it is likely that intergroup prejudice will occur. If pupils from two schools were in any way prejudiced towards each other, one of the possible interventions to reduce such attitude could be based on The Extended Contact Hypothesis (Wright et al. , 1997). This theory claims that if someone from first group (school A) is close friends with someone from second group (school B), and then this will improve intergroup relations.
If parents of a child from school A are friends with parents of a child from school B, it is likely that they might invite them over to their house (possibly a child would accompany them because their friends have a child their child’s age too). This might create an opportunity for them to bond and change thinking. Clearly, this idea is flawed because a mother of a child from school A and a mother of a child from school B are not direct group members of their children’s schools.
However, if their children become friends, taking into account they earlier held a negative view about each other, it is possible for them to start questioning their opinions about the other school. In addition, it is not definite children will become friends. They might dislike each other even more which would lead even to greater prejudice between members of rival schools. However, Wilner et al (1952; as cited in Wright et al. , 1997) presented that when white residents in integrated public housing projects were required to have a direct contact with black residents, it led to more positive attitudes about blacks in general.
The Intergroup Contact Hypothesis states that contact between members of different groups will improve intergroup relation, however only under certain circumstances (Pettigrew, 1998; as cited in Hogg & Vaughan, 2008). Since we can assume that situation described in the first intervention is not to be regarded as a ‘certain circumstance’, we can move on to a hypothetical situation that could create an appropriate atmosphere for school pupils to bond. Establishing what a special situation is can be difficult. Sherif at al (1961; as cited in Wright et al. 1997) in the famous Robbers Cave Study created the right conditions for young boys to cooperate with each other. In the ‘two rival schools’ scenario, children from both schools (A+B) could take part in a game against a different school – it is important that a school would be from a different city. This would involve physical activities as well as brain games. Perfectly, they would have to win to share the feeling of pride and connection. However this would be unethical if the results were cheated. Other school would feel inferior, even though hypothetically they were smarter and fitter and deserved to win.
This situation creates a risk – if A+B loose, school A will blame school B and vice versa, thus possibly generating even greater hatred towards the out-groups. It is difficult to conclude why prejudice occurs, however due to evolutionary perspective our group will have more advantage if out-group members will be discriminated. Situations described above happen due to heuristic as more effort is necessary to build a complex view about someone or a group.
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