chapter  7
22 Pages

Prejudice without Intention? “Cognitive” Foundations of White Racial Attitudes

The accounts of racism and prejudice discussed in the previous chapter emphasize the connections between racial prejudice and deeply rooted individual needs and conflicts. Through their lens, racism may appear to be an almost inevitable phenomenon, a set of attitudes so insistently woven into the fabric of the prejudiced individual’s personality that efforts to overcome it merely mask inclinations that remain fundamentally unchanged. But the processes discussed thus far do not exhaust the explanations for prejudice and stereotyping. Many researchers have emphasized more cognitive sources, the ways in which the ordinary workings of human thought-the very same perceptual and cognitive operations that, most of the time, enable us to develop a reasonably accurate picture of the world and the way it works-can lead us into forming erroneous, overgeneralized, and harmful images of what people of other groups are like.