Attribution Errors due to Negative Media Coverage

After reading the James, Dovido, and Vietze article, “Social Cognition and Categorization Distinguishing Us from Them,” I have been thinking about stereotypes and attributions a lot. How do they start? Why do we still believe in them, even though we are constantly told that they are only stereotypes? While looking through the list of key terms at the end of the article, I realized that almost each term could be caused by the images and videos shown on the news or through online media sites. Even from a very young age children have racial stereotypes imprinted in their minds by television shows, or media.  This seems like an endless cycle of racism that can never be stopped, but if we attack the source, and address the racial comments and headlines, maybe we can at least lessen the amount of racist media in the future.

The main basis of the article talked about attributions, and it said that people want ways to minimize the amount of effort we have to put out while understanding the world and that is why we make general assumptions about facts and things we hear, so we are better prepared for new situations (Dovidio, Jones, & Vietze, 2014). As people are watching television, there are headlines on the news describing crimes or bad things and they always state the color of the person that is suspected for the crime, so people see these stories and maximize the information to include an entire population. Starting in preschool, children pick up on these stereotypes.

When I was skimming through news articles online, I came across an article, “Black drivers are more likely to be stopped by police.” Most people probably see this headline, and assume they are being stopped for doing something wrong that warranted a stop, but actually five million stops are unwarranted and are not reported each year for stopping black drivers. This is an outrageous number and I think these stops are in response to the constant negative attention that is given to the African American community on the news.  People fall victim to the ultimate attribution error, and they apply any negative behavior by one person to an entire group of people, and believe that the entire population is bad.            

Acknowledging that we all fall victim to these attribution errors is the first step, and then having a critical eye when viewing these news articles is the next.  You cannot believe everything you hear and we can help by reading articles like the one posted below which demonstrates the wrongful accusations that happen to people of color every day. How can we attempt to change the negative ways people of color are portrayed on the news??