Priscilla T. Huley Social Psychology Homework Two Dec. 6, 2010 In order to prepare for this assignment, I was required to do some research about implicit attitudes, stereotypes, and prejudice. I also had to open my mind and be prepared to learn some things about my own personal hidden biases. Before I took the Implicit Attitude Test, I learned the definitions of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. Stereotypes are defined individuals’ beliefs that members of a group share particular attributes and negative stereotypes can provide the basis for prejudice and discrimination.
Prejudice is a having a negative attitude towards member of a group. Discrimination is simply aggression towards people because they are members of a specific group. Armed with this information, I began my journey into finding out my own personal hidden biases. I took the age and sexuality Implicit Attitude Test (IAT). I received results for the age IAT that stated I moderately prefer young people to old people. I received results for the sexuality IAT stating I made too many errors to obtain results.
I believe that these results were accurate in reflection of my biases and prejudices. I believe my results were accurate because I consider myself to be a young person and although I know that older individuals have lived longer and therefore have a great deal of wisdom to share I prefer to be around young people. I hold this preference because I can relate to them more. In reference to the sexuality IAT, I believe took the test twice and both times I received results stating that I had made too many errors to obtain results.
I can openly admit that I experienced a great deal of difficulty when taking this test. This was due to the word combinations being switched around. Initially the words good/ straight were a combination and gay/ bad were a combination. I became familiar with this trend. Therefore, when the combinations were switched to straight/bad and gay/good I mentally was still stuck with the previous combinations which in turn created a lot of errors. For the sexuality test which I received results for I found them very interesting. I consciously ove being around older individuals. I have always felt that I learned a lot from them but my unconscious biases demonstrated a tolerance for older people. The reason I was not aware of this unconscious hidden biases towards older people is because it is possible to be biased or prejudice against someone and not be aware of it. Humans have the unique capacity to create schemas every day, and although consciously people can love being around an individual or group, unconsciously there may be certain negative schemas activated when in their presence.
A good example would be I love being around one of my friends. I think of her positively on a conscious level but I hold negative attitudes towards people who sleep around. This is a behavior that my friend engages in frequently and enjoys openly talking about. Although I initially was not aware of it, whenever my friend would talk with me about her sexual encounters negative schemas would be activated and I would not want to be around her anymore. I never noticed that I was demonstrating this behavior until a friend brought it to my attention.
I was then forced to acknowledge that maybe I did not like being around this person as much as I thought. After learning about Implicit attitudes, I now know that hidden biases and activation of negative schemas where the cause of my attitude changing towards this friend. I believe that everyone should be treated equally and I try to advocate these beliefs everywhere I go but I can still have hidden biases that contradict my beliefs. People can consciously be committed to egalitarianism and deliberately work to behave without prejudice but still possess hidden negative prejudices or stereotypes.
There are several reasons that this can occur. The first reason lies in how we learned to be prejudice. Prejudiced are learned at a young are through family members or members of the in group. Although children have no significant understanding of these acquired prejudices, once learned changing these prejudices is difficult. The tendency is for the people to accept anything that promotes the biases that have been learned and ignore anything that contradicts them. This in turn strengthens the biases over time.
Once strengthened although people may not consciously be aware of it, these biases will then be demonstrated in behavior. All of these reasons can aid in people possessing contradicting hidden biases, but fortunately these biases can be controlled. The first step necessary in controlling biases is recognizing that they exist. Awareness is the strongest weapon against biases because of self verification. Self verification is the idea that people want to believe that they are god people who promote equality.
If people were to figure out that they were behaving in ways that support negative stereotypes, they would not feel good about themselves. In fact it would contradict all feelings of self worth. Making an honest effort to acknowledge the biases that every person possesses and changing them will make this world a better place. How many people can think of a situation where you behaved in a discriminatory way towards a member of a certain group, even though you are not prejudiced toward that group? I’m sure many people can think at least one incidence in their life where they behaved this way.
Although it’s embarrassing to me now, I looked at all Arabs suspiciously. Although, I am quite aware that it was wrong to discriminate against people just people just because of their ethnic origins around that time any person that was Arab or similar were perceived as a threat to my nation and family. This behavior was enhanced due to 9/11 and I would sit away from or steer clear of individuals of the Arab persuasion. This was ignorant and very offensive to the people I behaved towards this way.
In fact I felt highly hypocritical because African Americans have been discriminated against for centuries and I still experience some degree of prejudice from others today. This doesn’t make me feel good and to know that I treated others wrong because of their race is sickening. Becoming aware of my feelings and actions enabled me to change them. There are several strategies that can be used to reduce prejudice and discrimination in society. Parents and families should watch their behaviors around young children because children learn from these behaviors.
This means if negative biases are demonstrated in front of a child this child will learn and model them as well. Therefore parents should make a conscious effort to learn and change their biases so that children can grow up learning an egalitarian lifestyle. The best way for all people to eliminate negative biases against members outside of his or her in group is to make a conscious effort to spend more time with members outside of their recognized in group. The more time spent with people who differ from yourself the more favorable your attitudes will become towards others.
In conclusion, there is still much to be learned about prejudice and discrimination. There the more knowledge that is acquired about the way negative attitudes towards others are learned and then harbored the better the opportunity is to eliminate them. This is an effort that will have to be supported by every person. It will begin with people taking test like the Implicit Attitude Test and educating themselves about their own hidden biases. Once each person opens up and begins to learn about themselves and how they treat others unconsciously, serious changes can be made worldwide.