The study of stereotyping and prejudice is a study of human nature, group mem bership, and intergroup relationships. It sheds light on each of these aspects of social psychology. With respect to the first two, it has been observed that since groups provide the best framework for satisfying various human needs, individuals continuously organize themselves in collectives. They belong to a variety of groups-many of which they voluntarily select and some to which they are ascribed. Group membership, therefore, is one of the most salient and important of an indi vidual's characteristics. The implication of this characteristic is that human beings not only constantly classify other people into group categories, either by identifying membership or constructing their own categories, but also judge and evaluate them on this basis. The stereotypes and prejudice are outcomes of this process. They are the beliefs and attitudes toward members of another group. In addition, the study of stereotyping and prejudice reflects an interest in inter group relationships. While we recognize that a discussion of intergroup relation ships may focus on behaviors describing actions such as confrontations, violence, wars, cooperation, alliance, negotiation, or coordination, we also believe that each of these intergroup behaviors is mediated by perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes. In the case of intergroup behaviors, the listed actions are not performed instinctively or mindlessly, but are preceded by cognitive processes which, among other outputs, involve the formation of stereotypes and prejudice toward the other group.
Arie W. Kruglanski, Carl F. Graumann, Daniel Bar-Tal, Wolfgang Stroebe
Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1989
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