Automatic Stereotyping

After reading the Devine study this week, I was fascinated by the findings of this study and what it says about racism and the use of knowledge of stereotypes. The study had three main findings: first, that both high and low racist subjects had the same knowledge of the racial stereotypes. Second, that when primed with racial stereotypes (not aware of priming) this influenced the way both high and low racist groups viewed racial minorities, therefore it became an automatic response. Third, when given the opportunity to censer their thought, Low racist showed a decrease in racist views compared to high racist subjects.

When looking at these findings I find it interesting how easily influenced people can be by stereotypes. For example this was shown in study two, when the subjects were primed or shown stereotypical information, with out knowing or being aware of it. Because of this they were more likely to act on those stereotypes and influence their beliefs. For example I find this a common example of watching the news and hearing reports of a black or hispanic man who robbed a house, or something with a negative association. In this situation this information is so common on the news, that someone may not even realize that they are stereotyping this information. Therefore it becomes automatic response and later on they react to those stereotypes. For example, by being more cautious and nervous around black or hispanic men. This seems problematic to me because I feel like it becomes a habit and something that is hard to break and become aware of. It is hard to stop yourself and correct how you are interpreting the information.

The findings in the last part of the study did give me some hope because when aware of the stereotyping, subjects were able to catch themselves and correct their beliefs. Yet, it seems to me that most of the stereotypes that are presented in the world have become automatic and so common that most people would not recognize it as a problem and not adjust their belief, like the second part of the study. In this case I wonder how or what can be done to make these stereotypes more aware to people and make them less of an automatic response? One thing I can think of to help is by simply taking classes like this one or becoming knowledgeable about these aspects of racism in todays world. Every bit of knowledge and awareness helps us to catch ourselves and control our beliefs and actions. But is there still more that can be done?

2 thoughts on “Automatic Stereotyping

  1. Interesting. I agree with Lexie that the findings for study 1 and 3 (public discussing stereotypes) would probably be different today. But, the findings for Study 2 (using unconsciously primed stereotypes to judge a person) would still be the same. Actually, that is pretty much the point Dovidio makes in his job selection study (1989 versus 1999).

  2. As I stated right before class, do you think the results would be the same today?
    I have the feeling that it would not be. As time goes on, racism becomes less and less socially desirable. Today, I think people would be much more hesitant to admit their knowledge of stereotypes (study 1). I also think many people who scored high-prejudice would not write their true feelings about Blacks (study 3).
    It would be interesting to see what a replication of this study would look like.

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