The motives underlying stereotype-based discrimination against members of stigmatized groups

E. L. UHLMANN, V.L. Brescoll, E. Machery

Social Justice Research

March 2010, vol. 23, n°1, pp.1-16

Departments: Management & Human Resources

Keywords: Stereotyping, Rationality, Threatened egotism, System justification, Social dominance orientation, Bayesian racism, Bayesian prejudice

We argue that the motivations that underlie stereotype-based discrimination against racial minorities and other stigmatized groups often fail to meet standard criteria for rational judgments. Stereotyping of such groups is often driven by threats to one’s self-esteem and a desire to rationalize inequality, and declines when the perceiver is motivated to be accurate. Also, Bayesian racism—the belief that it is rational to discriminate against individuals based on stereotypes about their racial group—correlates highly with negative feelings toward minorities and the desire to keep low-status groups in their place, and correlates negatively with indices of rational thinking. The motives that drive social judgments call into question whether people engage in stereotype-based discrimination for rational reasons