Chapter Summary

This chapter describes emotional prejudices and their interplay with cognitions on which they are based. Several recent theories describe specific emotions targeting particular outgroups, based on perceivers’ beliefs about them. The stereotype content model predicts distinct emotional prejudices from stereotypes that themselves result from intergroup relations of status and competition. The intergroup emotions theory predicts distinct emotional prejudices from perceiver appraisals of the threat posed by each outgroup. Image theory examines structural relations between groups and posits types of outgroup images and associated emotions. The biocultural approach predicts different threats to group integrity and evolved emotional responses to preserve the group. All these theories posit intergroup behaviors stemming from outgroup emotional prejudices. Other theories focus on specific emotions of anxiety and guilt in intergroup encounters.

Taking seriously the idea that specific ingroup–outgroup prejudices reflect the unique circumstances of different groups, the chapter examines four specific kinds of prejudice. First, anti-Black racial prejudice is exceptional because it is more emotionally loaded in current society than is sexism or ageism. Racism is also more aversive to its agents than are other kinds of prejudice; people deny even to themselves that they hold these attitudes. Although people jump to biological explanations to explain racial issues, much evidence supports social cognitive construction as underlying this prejudice. Finally, Black Americans remain more segregated from the rest of society than any other outgroup, so contact is limited, and the prospects for going beyond racial prejudices are daunting.

Gender prejudice uniquely combines high status for one group with interdependence between the two groups. The result is ambivalent prescriptive stereotypes that mix positive and negative emotions, which together maintain the status quo. Both bio-evolutionary explanations and social role theory can explain prejudices that reinforce existing arrangements.

Ageism uniquely involves a moving target, in that people both hope and fear to join the outgroup category. As such, it raises issues of mortality and emotional distancing, as well as prescriptive stereotyping because of generational interdependence. Finally, sexual prejudice targets a concealable stigma, but it is widespread and simultaneously controversial, evoking strong reactions on all sides. We now turn to more general theories of the affect–cognition interplay.

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