In our class focused on aversive racism, we examined an article by Patricia G. Devine. Devine’s article consisted of three related studies which focused on the mental processes of both high-prejudice and low-prejudice individuals. Devine’s first study found that high and low prejudice individuals are aware of the same stereotypes. Devine’s second study looked below the surface of consciousness, and found that when people, whether they are high or low prejudice are not aware that they are being primed with stereotypes, they will behave in a way that is dictated by the stereotypes. The third, and (in my opinion) most important study affirmed that there are two distinct routes that people encounter when engaging in stereotypical thought (clarify: thoughts about stereotypes). The first route is the automatic route, that is, when a stereotype comes to mind, the mind automatically processes it, and people automatically use the stereotypes. The second route is the controlled route, which occurs when people get the opportunity to control their thoughts before using or not using stereotypes. It is through the controlled route that we see the distinction between high and low prejudice individuals. High prejudice individuals, when given opportunity to control their thoughts, still use stereotypes to direct their thinking. Low prejudice individuals, on the other hand, take the opportunity to control their thoughts and actively avoid the use of stereotypes in their thinking.
Something about our last conversation in contemporary racism was bothering me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I knew it had something to do with how we had discussed the low prejudice versus high prejudice participants in Hodson, et al (2002). We discussed how “high prejudiced” participants from a sample of college students really represents the “low prejudiced” end of the general American population. We discussed that this is due to college students generally holding more egalitarian beliefs. I think there are several aspects of this conversation that didn’t get teased out, simply because of time constraints, but … Read more