Spring Assignment

965 Words4 Pages
Within social psychology, the social cognition approach suggests prejudice and discrimination have automatic (implicit) and controlled (explicit) components, social cognition considers “mental processes that underlie human social behaviour” (Fiske & Taylor 1991). Automatic processes occur without intention, effort or awareness and they do not interfere with other mental processes (Hewstone et al 2009), they are very similar to implicit attitudes. Controlled processes however, are intentional, controlled and effortful (Hewstone et al 2009). Prejudice can be defined as: 1) an attitude; 2) based upon faulty and inflexible generalisations; 3) a preconception; 4) rigid and resilient; and 5) bad (Augustinos et al 2006). The idea that individuals are automatically prejudiced and discriminatory is a difficult concept to grasp, however it is pretty simple when you think about it. When you think about black people, whats the first thing you think of? Often its something derogatory or stereotypical, the social cognition approach argues this is your implicit attitude coming into play. There is a vast range of evidence which supports the idea that stereotypes can be automatically activated. The idea is that, if a stereotype is is learnt well and used often then the content of the stereotype comes to mind automatically when cues are present (Smith & Mackie 2007; Hewstone et al 2009). Studies carried out to test this idea use a process called priming, which is where “activating one stimulus facilitates the subsequent processing of another related stimulus (Hewstone et al 2009), Devine (1989) uses this, argued that individuals cannot avoid the automatic stereotype, and this idea is supported by Bargh (1999). However, Blair (2002) argues t... ... middle of paper ... ...y measure automaticity. Also, people often consider implicit attitudes to be the truth, however research shows that these implicit attitudes are subject to personal, social, and situational pressures suggesting they may not be as ‘automatic’ as previously thought. (Blair 2002). This idea is supported by Sherman (2005) who suggests The performance of two people who appear to have equally strong implicit biases may reflect different underlying processes. Thus, behavioural outcomes on automatic measures of stereotypes and prejudice may not reflect differences in underlying attitudes, per se”. Furthermore, the approach fails to consider the influence of aspects other than whats happening inside an individuals head. It overlooks institutional factors which are seen to provide and reproduce inequality, which could easily influence prejudice and discrimination.
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