Think about a time when you made a decision without carefully thinking. What factors motivate us to make such decision? We often make quick and effortless decisions based on our stereotype of other people. The stereotypes we make are simply due to the difference between their nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age or ability, and ours. Racial stereotype, as one of the most commonly seen stereotype in our life, has an efficient job on how people form judgments of other people and then make decision through three situations.
What are Chinese like? Do they all have small eyes? Are all Chinese good at math? Do all Americans like hamburgers? People hold attitudes and beliefs about different groups because they allow us to answer these types of questions quickly. Such beliefs and attitudes are called stereotypes which are mental shortcuts that allow us to organize information about other people quickly. Stereotypes are activated automatically and without conscious awareness, even among people who describe themselves as unprejudiced (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999; Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). There are no explicitly good or bad stereotypes. If you hold negative belief toward people, stereotype turns into prejudice and thus discrimination. Prejudice consists of negative judgments and attitudes toward a person based on their group membership. On the other hand, Discrimination is the inappropriate and unjustified treatment of people based on their group membership. Prejudice becomes discrimination when it translates into the unequal treatment of individuals who are the object of the prejudicial attitudes (Ricardo A. Frazer & Uco J. Wiersma, 2001). People may ask what causes this to happen. We tend to favorite our in-group members more because of the in-group favoritism. On the other hand, the out-group homogeneity effect lets us to see the out-group members the same.
Stereotype appears everywhere in our lives. The most common one is the racial stereotype. Often when we first meet someone, we judge them by their races to form our impression about them. This happens even in criminal courts. We often identify people from different ethnicity as the perpetrators of crime, but later find out that we have identified the wrong person. The experiment of police officers and racial bias in the decision to shoot done by Correl, Park, Judd, & Wittenbrink (2002) showed police officers often are influenced by the suspect’s race. Investigators have consistently found evidence that police use greater force, including lethal force, with minority suspects than with White suspects (e.g., Inn, Wheeler, & Sparling, 1977). Our brains allow us to make quick decisions through categorizing people on the basis of race. In other words, the cross-ethnic identification bias often occurs as we often see all out-groups very similar. Thus we often claim that they all look the same after we know that we make the wrong decision.
Racial stereotype not only occurs in criminal judgment, it...