A little of the old in-out, in-out
Intro by westwood
Well, last time I gave you a to be continued. This is the continued. Welcome to part two of a series on prejudice, multiculturalism, and all that fun stuff. How many parts? Well, we shall just have to see, because even if I drop tag words like NAZI and RACISM and SEXUAL DEVIANCE and LESBIANS WHO LOOK LIKE JUSTIN BIEBER, the modern blogreader has an attention span of a wombat. Unlike Twitter, where even goldfish have too much focus. Anyway, if you read for three minutes, YOU ARE ONE OF US and you will already dislike non-gapingwhole readers. Why?
Hold on, because the illustrious GabsAttack!, expert on all things psychology and furiously writing her thesis on a topic very similar to this, is going to give us some scary facts behind the raw deal of how we are programmed to hate everyone that doesn’t love Metric.
No one really likes to admit that they are jerks to those that are different. We like to believe that we are open-minded and accept those that are dissimilar to us. We also like to tell ourself the lie that we don’t like to pigeon-hole our identity; we are unique. The problem is research overwhelmingly tells us that we’re jerks to those that are not part of our majority. In fact, we’re so concerned with how unprejudiced we are, that if you tell us that we’re prejudice, or show us prejudiced media content, we’ll rate ourselves as less prejudice compared to control groups. White people love this.
This social desirability effect generally makes it tough to accurately gauge the prejudice we feel toward outsiders, researchers use an Implicit Association Task to measure how much people tend to discriminate their out-groups. The idea is that congruent concepts will produce faster response times on a computer task than incongruent concepts. Now while I personally think the IAT needs improvement, psychologists are pretty okay with it. Even if we ignore the giant problem that it doesn’t always measure actual prejudice, but only awareness of societal stereotypes, it’s still important to consider why those streotypes are so pervasive. Especially when they can show in a sneaky way how much we devalue those that are different.
Often, rationalizations about why it’s okay to hate others come from the government or the media. Wars and genocides function under the basis that those that are different are to be feared and eradicated. Wars are not about killing human beings – they are about killing subhuman beings.
The punk rock kids had it right all along (Check out Anti-Flag – Anatomy of Your Enemy). Dehumanization is a scary phenomenon that facilitates the countless examples in human history that proves that it takes suprisingly little to murder those unlike us.
However, discrimination of out-groups can be extremely ordinary. It is no surprise that we hate based on tangible differences such as race, skin colour, gender, sexuality, religion, socio-economic status etc. What is remarkable is how little it takes to create prejudice. Psychologists realized that there was a major confounding variable in most prejudice and IAT research; people generally have have pre-existing biases. The strength of their idenfication with an in-group may also play a role. It is really tricky to separate prejudice due to exposure to societal norms, cultural training and personal experience from prejudice due to the in- or out-group phenomenon.
So Tajfel and his colleagues, way back in 1971, created the minimal group paradigm. People walk into a lab and are assigned a meaningless group on site. There should be no reason to discriminate those in an out-group, but that’s not what happens.
Even though you have no connection whatsoever to this group, and you’ve only heard of it for about three minutes, there is still a strong enough incentive to de-value the out-group an favour the in-group. It’s sort of like being in pre-med; you’re automatically an asshole to everyone who’s not even though there’s very little holding you together. Nevermind competition for resources or any other justification we invent for disliking an out-group, people are basically willing to hate anyone dissimilar to them. This is a) really interesting and awesome, and b) totally scary and dangerous. The minimal group paradigm shows that despite logic or emotion, we can act like selfish and prejudiced jerks to just about anyone we don’t idenfity with. Now more than ever, in a society that is supposed to be increasingly tolerant, it is essential that we keep in mind that we are more than willing to cast off those that are not similar to us.
Boccato, G., Capozza, D., Falvo, R., & Durante, F. (2008). The missing link: Ingroup, outgroup and the human species. Social Cognition, 26(2), 224-234. doi:10.1521/soco.2008.26.2.224
Haslam, N., Loughnan, S., Kashima, Y., & Bain, P. (2008). Attributing and denying humanness to others. European Review of Social Psychology, 19, 55-85. doi:10.1080/10463280801981645
O’Brien, L. T., Crandall, C. S., Horstman-Reser, A., Warner, R., Alsbrooks, A., & Blodorn, A. (2010). But I’m no bigot: How prejudiced White Americans maintain unprejudiced self-images. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(4), 917-946. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2010.00604.x
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Tags: dehumanization, dinosaur comics, discrimination, genocide, IAT, identity, implicit association testing, in group, justin bieber, lesbians who look like justin bieber, metric, minimal group paradigm, nazi, outgroup, psychological testing, psychology, racism, tajfel, tolerance, war, white people, xkcd