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The affective dynamics of stereotyping and intergroup relations

Advances in Group Processes

ISBN: 978-0-76230-651-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-049-4

Publication date: 31 July 2000


Most of the research on stereotyping and intergroup relations in social psychology has been conducted within the social cognition paradigm of psychological social psychology. In this paper we identify three deficits of the social cognition approach to stereotyping and intergroup relations that have hindered its developing a satisfactory explanatory model: first, an overemphasis on cognition and a concomitant neglect of affect; second, the confounding of affect and cognition by recent attempts to redress this imbalance; and, third, the tendency to treat the relations among cognitive, affective, and behavioral aspects of intergroup relations as a one-way causal process, rather than as a system of reciprocal effects and cybernetic control. We show how affect control theory, with its twofold emphasis on affect and control, and its clear distinction between cognition and affect, provides a comprehensive, explanatory model for analyzing stereotyping and intergroup relations. To illustrate this claim, we report three studies based on intergroup attitudes for Canadian regional identities. The first applies the in-group bias/ethnocentrism and out-group homogeneity hypotheses from social cognition research on intergroup perceptions to affect control theory data on intergroup attitudes. The second employs the attribution equations of affect control theory to demonstrate how stereotypic traits can be generated from intergroup attitudes for social identities. The third applies the impression formation equations of the theory to analyze the affective outcomes of intergroup relations between Canadians with different regional identities. Our findings reveal qualified support for the application of the in-group bias and out-group homogeneity hypotheses to affect control theory data on intergroup attitudes. In addition, the generation of stereotypic traits from intergroup relations, yield plausible results. Following a discussion of the limitations of our research, we show how social cognition theory and affect control theory are complementary approaches to the study of stereotyping and intergroup relations.


MacKinnon, N.J. and Bowlby, J.W. (2000), "The affective dynamics of stereotyping and intergroup relations", Advances in Group Processes (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 37-76.



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