Researchers find that in race stereotypes, issues are not so black and whiteDecember 28, 2015
Recent race-related events in Ferguson, Mo., St. Louis, Baltimore, Chicago, Charleston, S.C., and New York City -- all point to the continuing need to study and understand race relations in modern America. These events show how race and stereotypes are intertwined and can lead to explosive situations and protests.
Now, three Arizona State University researchers have approached this problem by asking, why do white Americans' stereotypes of black Americans take the particular forms they do? The answer, surprisingly, may have little to do with race, per se. Instead, many predominant race stereotypes reflect beliefs about how people from different environments, or 'ecologies,' are likely to think and behave.
In "Ecology-driven stereotypes override race stereotypes," published in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ASU doctoral students Keelah Williams and Oliver Sng, together with Steven Neuberg, an ASU Foundation Professor of Psychology, conducted a series of five studies examining the stereotypes people hold about individuals who live in resource-poor and unpredictable ('desperate') environments as compared to those who live in resource-sufficient and predictable ('hopeful') environments.
Research shows that desperate and hopeful environments tend to shape the behavior of those living within them by altering the costs and benefits of different behavioral strategies. Desperate ecologies tend to reward 'faster,' present-focused behaviors whereas hopeful ecologies tend to reward 'slower,' future-oriented behaviors.
Because ecology shapes behavior, the authors argue, social perceivers are likely to use cues to another's ecology, or environment they come from, to make predictions about how that person is likely to think and behave. Indeed, research participants stereotyped those from desperate environments as relatively faster -- as more impulsive, sexually promiscuous, likely to engage in opportunistic behavior and as less invested in their education and children, than individuals from hopeful ecologies.
But why are these ecology-driven stereotypes relevant for understanding the content of race stereotypes?
"In America, race and ecology are somewhat confounded -- whites are more likely to live in relatively hopeful ecologies, and blacks are more likely to live in relatively desperate ecologies," said Williams. "We wanted to examine whether Americans were actually using race as a cue to ecology, and if so, whether providing ecology information independently from race information would lead people to decrease their use of race stereotypes."
To assess the relationship between ecology and race stereotypes, the researchers first examined participants' stereotypes of individuals from desperate and hopeful ecologies (with no race information provided) and compared these responses to participants' stereotypes of blacks and whites (with no ecology information provided). The patterns were identical -- stereotypes of blacks mirrored stereotypes of individuals from desperate environments, and stereotypes of whites mirrored stereotypes of individuals from hopeful environments.
"However, when provided with information about both the race and ecology of others, individuals' inferences about others reflect their ecology rather than their race," Williams said. Black and white targets from desperate ecologies were stereotyped similarly, and black and white targets from hopeful ecologies were stereotyped similarly.
"In thinking about black and white individuals from hopeful and desperate ecologies, information about the individuals' home ecology trumped information about their race," Williams said.
The researchers stress that these findings shouldn't be taken to imply that race is unimportant, or that stereotypes about people from desperate ecologies are the only source of racial prejudices. Moreover, the researchers note several important caveats for interpreting their findings.
First, said Neuberg, "although in present-day America blacks are more likely than whites to be from desperate ecologies, and whites are more likely than blacks to be from hopeful ecologies, this association between race and ecology is far from perfect, meaning that race is an imperfect cue to ecology. Second, even stereotypes that do possess meaningful kernels of truth are rarely perfect representations of any particular individual. Third, because people are biased to exaggerate perceived threats, stereotypes of those from desperate ecologies are likely to be more extreme than is warranted by the actual behaviors of people living within those ecologies."
Findings of this study have potentially important implications for understanding the content of race stereotypes in America.
"Race stereotypes have far-reaching consequences," said Williams. "Stereotypes about groups can lead to negative prejudices and discrimination directed towards members of those groups. If we can understand why American race stereotypes take the particular forms they do, we may be able to find new ways of reducing racial prejudices and discrimination."
Arizona State University
Related Behavior Articles:
'Religious Devotion and Extrinsic Religiosity Affect In-group Altruism and Out-group Hostility Oppositely in Rural Jamaica,' suggests that a sincere belief in God -- religious devotion -- is unrelated to feelings of prejudice.
Researchers at the University of Zurich have identified the brain mechanism that governs decisions between honesty and self-interest.
The scientists analyzed an extensive data set of brain region connectivity from the NIH-funded Human Connectome Project (HCP) which is mapping neural connections in the brain and makes its data publicly available.
A study shows that contests of butterflies occur only as erroneous courtships between sexually active males that are unable to distinguish the sex of the other butterflies.
In a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology, Paul D.
Curiosity could be an effective tool to entice people into making smarter and sometimes healthier decisions, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
Anyone who's gone camping has seen birds foraging for picnic crumbs, and according to new research in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, the availability of food in campgrounds significantly alters jays' behavior and may even change how they interact with other bird species.
A team of investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the University of Massachusetts have developed a suite of computer algorithms that can accurately predict the behavior of the microbiome -- the vast collection of microbes living on and inside the human body.
Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe?
A new study suggests that the specific alignment of neural networks in the brain dictates whether a person's altruism was motivated by selfish or altruistic behavior.
Related Behavior Reading:
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
by Robert M. Sapolsky (Author)
A New York Times Bestseller.
"Hands-down one of the best books I’ve read in years. I loved it."— Dina Temple-Raston, The Washington Post
“It’s no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read.” —David P. Barash, The Wall Street Journal
From the celebrated neurobiologist and primatologist, a landmark, genre-defining examination of human behavior, both good and bad, and an answer to the question: Why do we do the things we do?
Sapolsky's storytelling... View Details
The Survival Guide for Kids with Behavior Challenges: How to Make Good Choices and Stay Out of Trouble
by Thomas McIntyre Ph.D. (Author)
Many kids and teens have challenges when it comes to behavior. In this revised edition of his time-tested book, Thomas McIntyre provides up-to-date information, practical strategies, and sound advice to help kids learn to make smarter choices, make and keep friends, get along with teachers, take responsibility for their actions, work toward positive change, and enjoy the results of their better behavior. New to this edition are an “Are you ready to change?” quiz, updated glossary and resources, and a fresh organization and design. This is a book for any young person who needs help with... View Details
Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior
by Leonard Mlodinow (Author)
From the bestselling author of The Drunkard’s Walk and coauthor of The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), a startling and eye-opening examination of how the unconscious mind shapes our experience of the world.
Winner of the 2013 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
Over the past two decades of neurological research, it has become increasingly clear that the way we experience the world--our perception, behavior, memory, and social judgment--is largely driven by the mind's subliminal processes and not by the conscious ones, as we... View Details
The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students
by Jessica Minahan (Author), Nancy Rappaport MD (Author)
Based on a collaboration dating back nearly a decade, the authors—a behavioral analyst and a child psychiatrist—reveal their systematic approach for deciphering causes and patterns of difficult behaviors and how to match them with proven strategies for getting students back on track to learn.
The Behavior Code includes user-friendly worksheets and other helpful resources. View Details
The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & ... Tolerance (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
by Matthew McKay (Author), Jeffrey C. Wood (Author), Jeffrey Brantley (Author)
A Clear and Effective Approach to Learning DBT Skills
First developed for treating borderline personality disorder, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has proven effective as treatment for a range of other mental health problems, especially for those characterized by overwhelming emotions. Research shows that DBT can improve your ability to handle distress without losing control and acting destructively. In order to make use of these techniques, you need to build skills in four key areas-distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal... View Details
Ethics for Behavior Analysts, 3rd Edition
by Jon Bailey (Author), Mary Burch (Author)
This fully-updated third edition of Jon Bailey and Mary Burch’s bestselling Ethics for Behavior Analysts is an invaluable guide to understanding and implementing the newly-revised Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Professional and Ethical Compliance Code. Featured in this new edition are case studies drawn from the author’s real-world practice with hints to guide readers toward the ethical ‘solution’ and revised chapters, including how this new edition evolved alongside the revised Code and tips for succeeding in your first job as a certified behavior analyst. The... View Details
Flight Behavior: A Novel
by Barbara Kingsolver (Author)
"Kingsolver is a gifted magician of words."
The extraordinary New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna (winner of the Orange Prize), The Poisonwood Bible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize), and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver returns with a truly stunning and unforgettable work. Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in... View Details
Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd Edition)
by John O. Cooper (Author), Timothy E. Heron (Author), William L. Heward (Author)
Applied Behavior Analysis provides a complete description of the principles and procedures needed to systematically change socially significant behavior and to understand the reasons for that change. This comprehensive text, appropriate for courses in basic principles, applications, and behavioral research methods, helps students, educators, and practitioners appreciate and begin to acquire the conceptual and technical skills necessary to foster socially adaptive behavior in diverse individuals. View Details
Good Behavior (Letty Dobesh Chronicles)
by Blake Crouch (Author)
Now a TNT television series starring Michelle Dockery.
Fresh out of prison and fighting to keep afloat, Letty Dobesh returns to her old tricks burglarizing suites at a luxury hotel. While on the job, she overhears a man hiring a hit man to kill his wife. Letty may not be winning any morality awards, but even she has limits. Unable to go to the police, Letty sets out to derail the job, putting herself on a collision course with the killer that entangles the two of them in a dangerous, seductive relationship.
Good Behavior comprises three interlinked novellas... View Details
Hands Are Not for Hitting (Board Book) (Best Behavior Series)
by Martine Agassi Ph.D. (Author), Marieka Heinlen (Illustrator)
It’s never too soon for children to learn that violence is never okay, hands can do many good things, and everyone is capable of positive, loving actions.
In this bright, inviting, durable board book, simple words and full-color illustrations teach these important concepts in ways even very young children can understand.
Created in response to requests from parents, preschool teachers, and childcare providers, this book belongs everywhere young children are. Includes tips for parents and caregivers.