The Role of Cognition in Prejudice – Prejudice and Bias (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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    00:00 Now, let’s take a look at The Role of Cognition or The Thinking.

    00:05 Emotion processing centers of the brain become more active automatically when you are considering the role of prejudice.

    00:15 Okay, so may have prejudiced thoughts but don’t act on those.

    00:18 And that was ahead started the section with is that we might be thinking it but you don’t ever act on it.

    00:24 And so we know that emotionally this internal dialogue is happening.

    00:27 And lot of it is just automatic.

    00:29 So you’re not thinking "I’m going to be prejudiced", it just seems like a reflex.

    00:34 And part of that is because of a little trick that the mind use called conceptual shortcuts.

    00:40 And the brain does this to actually compartmentalize and expediter or speed up the way we process information.

    00:47 And that we store information and that we conceptually process this stuff.

    00:52 So, instead of having to piece by piece, feature by feature, define an individual or group. We do it in bins.

    01:02 Let’s say for example, we’re talking about black versus white.

    01:09 In your mind, you have a conceptual shortcut for black or you have a conceptual shortcut for white and that this two things.

    01:16 One, it allows you to create a version or a representation of what a black person should be or a white person should be or look like.

    01:26 And sometimes you will also associate characteristics with that too.

    01:30 So, when in your mind seeing somebody who’s black or seeing white instead of looking at that individual you bring up that conceptual shortcut.

    01:38 And so if you apply a prejudice, that prejudice will apply now all of a sudden to this conceptual shortcut and it will apply to that whole group.

    01:45 So it’s mechanistically speaking a shortcut that your mind uses in order to assist in a processing but it makes it much easier to implement and execute prejudice.

    01:57 Now, our brain is designed to detect “differences.” And so, as soon as you see something that’s different, it actually draws more attention, and we see this right from birth. Right? So as little babies. The babies will get drawn to – you might have a basket filled with toys.

    02:12 And you would think, “okay, this baby is going to be quite happy and busy for all of those variety of toys.” And then into the mixture you throw one little small toy and it seems crazy but the baby will automatically resonate to that one little new toy in these pool of toys.

    02:28 Or if you yourself as you get a little bit older, you come home and you hang one new picture on your wall.

    02:34 Now, you’ve walk by this wall. And this wall might have hundreds of picture frames but that new one that you just hung up sticks out.

    02:40 It’s because your brain is designed to detect differences.

    02:43 Okay so another concept is Illusory correlation.

    02:47 And this is when you have a group or individual who makes sort of assumptions based on specific characteristics of an individual.

    02:59 So it’s properly defined as the correlation that occurs between a group of people based on a characteristic of a unique individual.

    03:06 Now that individual might do something or have a property that you detect.

    03:11 So let’s say for example, let’s take a look at this diagram here that we have this picture.

    03:15 We have a young lady, and we have two gentlemen in suits.

    03:19 And we have some soccer balls here to represent the characteristics of one woman.

    03:26 Let’s say in this scenario, I’m talking about my girlfriend.

    03:30 So my girlfriend says to me, "I hate soccer." Or football in Europe or the rest of the world.

    03:35 So I hate football.

    03:37 And so now, I’m going to assume that all women hate football.

    03:41 Or really this isn't an accurate representation right? ‘Cause there’s lot of woman that love football and play it.

    03:46 And so we really can’t make that correlation.

    03:49 You’ll also going to look at in a sort of a positive fashion where you can say, “Let’s take a look at a one of the Michaels.” So Michael Jackson.

    03:57 Michael Jackson, maybe not a good example.

    04:00 But Let’s say Michael Jordan.

    04:01 Michael Jordan was a great basketball player.

    04:04 And Michael Jordan was black, and we are going to say that, well therefore, Michael Jordan, an amazing basketball player, black.

    04:11 So all blacks are amazing at basketball.

    04:14 A lot of Blacks are great at basketball but we can't consider that all Blacks are great at basketball.

    04:21 And you can do his for anything. For any gender, any race, any culture.

    04:25 And you’re looking at qualities or properties of one individual and applying them to a whole group of individuals. So, not accurate.

    04:35 That will be illusory correlation.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture The Role of Cognition in Prejudice – Prejudice and Bias (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, PhD is from the course Social Thinking.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Conceptual shortcuts
    2. Heuristics
    3. Mental set
    4. Belief bias
    5. Framing

    Author of lecture The Role of Cognition in Prejudice – Prejudice and Bias (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, PhD

    Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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