SPIE MI 2000 Figures

SPIE MI 2000 Figures

Prototypes and Perceived Control Predict Perceptions of Discrimination in Ambiguous Situations
Angela J. Krumm, MA and Alexandra F. Corning, PhD, University of Notre Dame

Introduction
Substantial social differences exist between
dominant and minority groups (Dovidio, 2001).
Historically, research regarding the phenomenon
of discrimination has focused on characteristics
of the perpetrators of discrimination (see Duckitt,
1992, for a review). Recently, however, research
has begun to focus on the perception of
discrimination from the perspective of the
recipient (e.g., Branscombe, Schmitt, & Harvey,
1999).
In the present study we examined the
experiences of women as one group that
experiences inequity based on group membership.
We conducted an experimental test of the
prototype view (Inman & Baron, 1996, p. 728)
of discrimination. This theory posits that
individuals are highly sensitive to situations that
fit their expectancies -- or "prototypes -- of
typical instances of discrimination.
Specific attributions of control (Weiner,
1979) were also proposed to be relevant to
perceptions of discrimination because,
theoretically, being treated unfairly involves a
lack of control over outcomes.

Hypotheses
1.) Women will be more likely to perceive
ambiguous situations of sex-based discrimination
as discriminatory when the perpetrator sex is
prototypical (i.e., a male) than when sex is nonprototypical (i.e., a female).
2.) Women who perceive they have less control
over unfair treatment based on sex will perceive
more discrimination in ambiguous situations than
women who perceive they have a lesser extent of
control.

Method
Participants
Participants were 262 undergraduate women at
two medium-sized mid-western universities.
Stimuli
Participants in the study read vignettes of
ambiguously discriminatory treatment (piloted, N
= 83) that were either male- or femaleperpetrated (depending on the participants
condition assignment).
Measures
Participants responded to a number of measures
including the following:
Perception of discrimination rating
Each vignette was followed by a question that
read, In your mind, to what extent did this
situation depict an instance of unfair
treatment based on sex?
Response Scale: 1(not at all [it definitely was
not an instance of unfair treatment based on
sex]) to 7(very much so [it definitely was an
instance of unfair treatment based on sex]).
Perception of control over sex-discrimination
rating
Participants responded to an item that read,
To what extent do you have control over
being a recipient of unfair treatment based on
sex?
Response Scale: 1(not at all) to 7(very much
so).

Contact: Angela Krumm
[email protected]

Conclusions

Results
A main effect was found for sex of the
perpetrator. Women were more likely to perceive
discrimination when the unfair treatment was
perpetrated by a male (M = 30.81) than when the
same treatment was perpetrated by a female (M =
28.48), despite the fact that non-prototypical
perpetrators exhibited exactly the same behavior.
We found a significant interaction between
participants level of perceived control over being
a recipient of unfair treatment and the sex of the
perpetrator, F(2,210) = 3.15, p < .01, (R2 = .15). Specifically, women with a greater sense of control provided more disparate ratings of perceived discrimination for male (M = 36.0) and female (M = 26.5) perpetrators than women with a lesser sense of control (M = 31.5 and M = 31.0 respectively.) Women may be more likely to perceive an instance as unfair treatment based on sex when perpetrated by a male (a prototypical perpetrator) because of biases individuals have regarding prototypical perpetrators of unfair treatment. The current results converge with recent findings that provide support for the prototype view (e.g., Flournoy et al., 2002; Inman & Baron, 1996). Perceived control over instances of gender discrimination significantly interacts with the sex of the perpetrator to predict the extent to which discrimination is perceived. Individuals working to maintain a sense of control over being treated unfairly may find it easier to attribute ambiguous treatment from nonprototypical perpetrators to causes other than discrimination. Women with a lower sense of perceived control over gender discrimination, however, may not be motivated to maintain a sense of control thus they may be more likely to perceive it as such, regardless of the prototypicality of the situation. References Branscombe, N. R., Schmitt, M. T., & Harvey, R. D. (1999). Perceiving pervasive discrimination among African Americans: Implications for group identification and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(1), 135-149. Dovidio, J. F. (2001). On the nature of contemporary prejudice: The third wave. Journal of Social Issues, 57(4), 829-849. Duckitt, J. H. (1992). Psychology and prejudice: A historical analysis and integrative framework. American Psychologist, 47(10), 1182-1193. Flournoy, J. M., Jr., Prentice Dunn, S., & Klinger, M. R. (2002). The role of prototypical situations in the perceptions of prejudice of African Americans. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32(2), 406-423. Inman, M. L., & Baron, R. S. (1996). Influence of prototypes on perceptions of prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(4), 727-739. Weiner, B. (1979). A theory of motivation for some classroom experiences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 71, 2-25.

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