Realistic Threat and In-Group Social Influence Affect Understandings of Negative Intergroup Claims as Prejudice and Truth
Platow, M. J. (Australian National University), Getchell, L. (Australian National University)
Social psychology has a long history of pursuing positive social change through the reduction, if not complete elimination, of prejudice. The conceptual and empirical questions we raise in this research pertain to the identification of a subset of intergroup attitudes as prejudiced while another subset – or even the same subset in a different context – can elude this pejorative label. We currently examine the hypothesis that labelling specific intergroup attitudes as prejudiced, and others as not, reflects context-dependent understandings of social norms and socially constructed truths associated with particular cognitive representations of oneself as a member of a specific group within a specific intergroup context. In the context of mental illness stigma, we independently manipulated realistic threat, and in-group vs. out-group interpretation of negative intergroup claims as “prejudice” or “truth.” We showed that the negative intergroup attitudes are seen more as truth, and less as prejudice, when: (1) intergroup threat is salient, and (2) an in-group member interprets the attitudes as “truth” in contrast to “prejudice.” Our analysis leads us to the view that prejudice is not a psychological concept at all, but a political one (albeit one with underlying psychological processes).
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Understanding Prejudice Symposium