What is the Problem? Prejudice as an Attitude-in-Context

  • Eagly A
  • Diekman A
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(from the chapter) The study of prejudice owes a great debt to Gordon Allport, who insightfully outlined the field's major issues in 1954. Although Allport's definition of prejudice as "an antipathy based upon a faulty and inflexible generalization" drew attention to troubling social problems, it did not account for the complexities of the prejudices that social scientists have since contemplated. The particular complexity that we analyze first in this chapter is that many groups that experience discrimination are not the targets of generalized negative attitudes--the "antipathy" of Allport's definition. Our second focus is accuracy--the "faulty generalization" of Allport's definition; we propose a dialectical principle whereby the stereotypes that underlie prejudice may typically be accurate at the group level but inaccurate in relation to individuals in the role-incongruent contexts that elicit prejudiced actions. Finally, we will show that prejudices are not necessarily inflexible but depend fundamentally on social context and slowly yield to changes in groups' positioning in the social structure. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Negativity
  • Prejudice
  • Social roles
  • Socioeconomic change
  • Stereotypes

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  • Alice H. Eagly

  • Amanda B. Diekman

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