Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The psychology of prejudice

At least since 1950, psychologists have been associating prejudice with mental problems.  You are allegedly maladjusted if you are prejudiced about anything.  Although I sometimes do, I have a strong prejudice against driving through a red light.  Does that make me prejudiced?  I think it is apparent that not all pre-judging is bad and may even be wise on occasions.  So their psychologizing of prejudice has always been uphill for them and mostly now seems to have been abandoned.  For some decades now, many psychologists have accepted it as normal.

So I was interested to look at an encyclopedic account of what we now know about prejudice -- one published in a book called The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology, in 2012.

The article was written by two very experienced researchers in the field --  Cohrs and Duckitt  -- and is generally moderate and cautious, as an encyclopedic article should be.

But because there is clearly "good" prejudice (such as opposition to the KKK) as well as "bad" prejudice, the authors soon hit a rock.  They recognize that value judgments intrude at that point.  Rather heroically, however, they avoid value judgments and define prejudice simply as a "negative attitude".  I hate to do this to two earnest people but my background in analytical philosophy immediately makes me get critical about that.  The definition overlooks the time element in prejudice.  It is something you do before you do something else.  For instance, I certainly have a negative attitude to ill health but does that mean I am prejudiced against ill health?  We are in deep waters there, I think.

But let me be indulgent and overlook that. I am pleased that they agree with something that has repeatedly emerged in my own research:  "Thus, while tendencies to favor and identify with one’s  own group may be universal, intergroup prejudice is not a universal consequence".  In other words, you can be patriotic without being a racist.

So is there a prejudiced personality?  Is the prejudiced person rigid, intolerant of ambiguity, lacking in openness and all that old guff?  Cohrs and Duckitt reject all that and say that there are only two real predictors of prejudice:  SDO and RWA.  Which is quite hilarious.

The SDO scale CONTAINS expressions of group prejudice so it is no wonder that it predicts it!  In statistician's terms, the correlations are artifactual.  I am disappointed in John Duckitt for not knowing that.  I am pretty sure I have pointed that out to him in the past.   In 2003 I put online  some fuller comments on the SDO scale.  It is a mess.

And as for the RWA (Right-wing Authoritarianism) scale, who knows what it measures?  In Russia the people who get the highest scores on it are former Communists, so it certainly is not a measure of anything Right-wing.  Our present authors describe it as measuring "a combination of traditionalism, support for authorities, and favoring coercive social control".

That's probably as good a description as any but it makes the RWA scale sound very Leftish.  Who are they who ignore the obvious facts and rely on appeals to authority to justify their belief in global warming?  It sure isn't conservatives.  And if you want to hear the conservative attitude to authority, just listen to GOP hero Donald Trump.  He rubbishes all the main authorities: The Congress, the political party organizations, the Supreme Court, the President, big business.  He trusts only the people, which is exactly right in a democracy. 

Marxists have often talked about "the people" but have never represented them.  Trump does.  From Marx and Engels on, Marxists have always been low wattage bourgeois intellectuals  -- confirmed ivory tower denizens.

And as for coercive social control, who is it who wanted to "fundamentally transform" America?  Hint: His surname begins with an O.   So it is a type of Leftism  that engenders racism?  It fits.  Aside from the Muslims, all the antisemitism in both Britain and America today is coming from the Left -- particularly in Britain.  And Hitler was a socialist.

Cohrs & Duckitt did not draw that inference, however, perhaps due to a general political naivety.  There also seems to be an underlying political naivety in this statement:

"Simply categorizing people as members of one’s own social category or as members of another social category seems to automatically generate identification with one’s group and a motivational tendency to positively differentiate it from other groups"

So you are always positive towards your own group?  Hardly. Many  American Leftists HATE America and lots of Jews are very negative about Israel.  Even Leftist Israelis are very critical of Israel. 

I think Cohrs and Duckitt need to get out into the fresh air a lot more.  There's a different world out there

How evolution made us xenophobes

The article below is fairly typical of modern psychological thinking.  It treats prejudice as inborn and universal

All the evidence suggests that migrants boost economic growth. So why don’t we just fly people who want to work to countries where there are jobs and welcome them with open arms?

Prejudices rooted in humanity’s evolutionary past may be partly to blame.  “Perceptions of competition drive a lot of our thinking and are difficult to avoid,” says Victoria Esses at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. Humans think of their support systems as a zero-sum game – so if one person gains, another must lose out.

Such perceptions were accurate during our evolutionary history as hunter-gatherers when the appearance of others on our patch meant fewer mastodons or mushrooms for us. If they were close relatives they might share – or at least our common genes would benefit from their success.

But anyone displaying different cultural markers was likely to be a competitor. A modern capitalist economy is not a zero-sum game – if you add more workers, it grows. Regardless of this, our evolutionary hang-ups make it difficult to accept the economic sense in welcoming immigrants.

That’s not all. We are instinctively wary of close contact with strangers because in our evolutionary past this helped us guard against infectious disease, says Mark Schaller at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Separate groups of people often have different histories of exposure and acquired immunity to pathogens. A disease carried innocuously by one might devastate another, as happened to the Native Americans after Europeans arrived.

Steven Neuberg at Arizona State University in Tempe notes that groups also evolve different survival-enhancing practices. “Foreigners with different rules might interfere with the social coordination you need to do important tasks, or might get members of your group to follow their rules instead,” he says. “Chaos could emerge if your group makes decisions by consensus but theirs is authoritarian.”

Schaller and Neuberg believe that for both these reasons, human cultures evolved to be wary of close interaction with people who were different from their group.

This xenophobia persists, says Neuberg, who has found that people feel threatened by groups with different values of many kinds. Ethnic groups in modern cities often form enclaves rather than mixing randomly – which can foster strong local communities but also engenders wider mistrust. To live in multicultural societies, we will need to learn to get past such evolved tendencies.


Witch Hunt Against Pro-Lifer David Daleiden Continues

The state of California truly is a quagmire. This week David Daleiden, the pro-life activist who heads the Center for Medical Progress — the organization that’s under attack for exposing Planned Parenthood’s practice of fetal harvesting — suffered another major setback when his home was raided by California Department of Justice agents. According to The Washington Post, the devices that were confiscated “contained all of the video Daleiden had filmed as part of his 30-month project, ‘including some very damning footage that has yet to be released to the public,’ he said.” Purely coincidental, surely.

Suffice to say, this is a bizarre development. As Ed Morrissey observes, “The only charges announced against Daleiden are in Texas, where a grand jury indicted him and colleague Sandra Merritt on the heinous charge of using a fake ID.” But this is no ordinary witch hunt. The abortion lobby wants to make sure this never happens again, which explains why California officials are now raiding his home. “It’s clearly intended as an intimidation technique, and a warning pour encourager les âutres who might want to call a politically protected industry to account for its actions,” adds Morrissey.

Former federal prosecutor Matt Heffron chimed in too, saying, “To storm into a private citizen’s home with a search warrant is outrageously out of proportion for the type of crime alleged. It’s a discredit to law enforcement, an oppressive abuse of government power.”

Recall that late last year thousands of prisoners were freed by Obama’s Justice Department. Meanwhile, their Democrat enablers want felons' voting rights restored, yet they believe, as Hillary Clinton recently argued, that “the unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.” When we leave what constitutes crime to the eye of the beholder, it’s the wrongdoers who walk free. And it’s the whistleblowers — like the people exposing Planned Parenthood’s gruesome death mill — and the victims of abortion who pay an insufferable price.


It's Come To This: NPR 'When Is It OK To Profit From Cooking Other Cultures' Food?'

Progressivism’s stupidity has no boundaries. We all know that, but when we have to debate whether we have to segregate food because…culture, you know that we’ve entered a state of decay. Yes, only white people can cook “white food,” Asians can only cook their cuisine, and blacks are master chefs in their realm. National Public Radio weighed in on this neo-apartheid regarding food asking last week “when is it OK to profit from cooking other cultures’ food?”

Folks, even by cooking other cultures’ food, and dare I say try to make a living off of it, could be cultural appropriation and a triggering of epic proportions. Or, if you’re an adult, it could be an area where you can enjoy a culture’s cuisine, learn more about it if it was mind-blowing, and really not give a flying you know what about who cooks it. Seriously, are progressives going to enter, say, a Thai restaurant and have anxiety attacks over the ethnicity of the chef? Apparently, that's a legitimate question in this LSD-laced nightmare (via NPR):

    "Recently, we started a conversation about food and race. Specifically, we wondered out loud, who gets to cook — and become the face of — a culture's cuisine?

    Our question was prompted by a recent Sporkful interview with Rick Bayless, who has faced criticism over his long career. Although he is an Oklahoman with no Mexican ancestry, he has become one of the most prominent ambassadors for Mexican cuisine in America....

    As with many things involving race and class in America, there are no easy answers — and we're not expecting to find any clear-cut ones. We're more interested in starting a conversation.

Newsbusters’ Tim Graham wrote that Bayless fed the First Couple Mexican food while in Chicago. Are they traitors to the cause? Probably not, but he did warn that Bayless could get some protesters coming his way:

    This is mildly amusing, since Bayless loves feeding the Obamas some Mexican food in Chicago. Some thought it was fine, it's a free country, and some did not, so Bayless might want to watch out for protesters:

    “when white people do this, they're inspired. when others do this, they're knockoffs. that's the reality”

    “And is it OK that people perceive the food the white chef adopted as worth more than they would pay for the original?”

Students at Oberlin College have similar gripes about their cafeteria food.

Yet, I’m going to trust the American public. I think the vast majority of people who aren’t miserable and self-righteous are perfectly fine with Bayless serving up awesome Mexican food. As a Korean American, I couldn’t care less if the ambassador of Korean cuisine to America is a white, black, or Hispanic. It’s good food, and it originated in the region of my birth. Other folks just cook it. Those recipes are centuries old. I just don’t see where a conniption fit is warranted. And I’m pretty sure other people, of all races, feel the same. Just relax, shut the hell up, and enjoy the Kimchi … you sad, sad* people.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


No comments: