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Benign Bigotry


  • Page extent: 364 pages
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521702591)

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Benign Bigotry
Cambridge University Press
9780521878357 - Benign Bigotry - The Psychology Of Subtle Prejudice - By Kristin J. Anderson

Benign Bigotry

While overt prejudice is now much less prevalent than in decades past, subtle prejudice – prejudice that is inconspicuous, indirect, and often unconscious – continues to pervade our society. Laws do not protect against subtle prejudice and, because of its covert nature, it is difficult to observe, and frequently goes undetected by both perpetrator and victim. Benign Bigotry uses a fresh, original format to examine subtle prejudice by addressing six commonly held cultural myths based on assumptions that appear harmless but actually foster discrimination: “those people all look alike”; “they must be guilty of something”; “feminists are man-haters”; “gays flaunt their sexuality”; “I'm not a racist, I'm colorblind” and “affirmative action is reverse racism.” Kristin J. Anderson skillfully relates each of these myths to real-world events, emphasizes how errors in individual thinking can affect society at large, and suggests strategies for reducing prejudice in daily life.

Kristin J. Anderson is Associate Professor of Psychology in the Social Sciences Department at the University of Houston-Downtown. She teaches college courses on prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping, and her work has been published in many academic journals including Developmental Psychology, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Sex Roles, and Journal of Latinos and Education.

Benign Bigotry

The Psychology Of Subtle Prejudice

Kristin J. Anderson

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Tokyo, Mexico City

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Kristin J. Anderson 2010

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2010
Reprinted 2011

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Anderson, Kristin J., 1967–
Benign bigotry : the psychology of subtle prejudice / Kristin J. Anderson.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-0-521-87835-7 (Hardback)
1. Prejudices. 2. Toleration. I. Title.
HM1091.A53 2009

ISBN 978-0-521-87835-7 Hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-70259-1 Paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

To Alyssa and Alana

With confidence and hope that your generation will do better than mine


Introduction. The changing place of prejudice: a migration underground
1     “Those people all look alike”: The myth of the other
2     “They must be guilty of something”: Myths of criminalization
3     “Feminists are man-haters”: Backlash myth-making
4     “Gays flaunt their sexuality”: The myth of hypersexuality
5     “I'm not a racist, I'm colorblind”: The myth of neutrality
6     “Affirmative action is reverse racism”: The myth of merit


I owe a major debt of gratitude to several individuals whose generous and useful contributions have made this work possible. Christina Accomando provided hours of stimulating conversation and ideas in the early stages of development of this book. Throughout this process many students in their capacity as research assistants have made valuable contributions. Tenille Duncan, Adela Garza Sopheap Im, Patricia Jefferson, Cynthia Pope, Marisa Ramirez, Monica Romo, and Fransheneka Watson each provided support in the many mechanical tasks that require patience and precision. To them, I offer heartfelt thanks. Dianne Wells deserves special recognition for her clarity, thoroughness, and painstaking attention to detail, combined with an impressive grasp of the larger issues in this project. Victor Vasquez deserves special mention in this regard as well. Over the course of this research and writing many colleagues have provided thoughtful and constructive comments on drafts of chapters. These people include Christina Accomando, Gail Burns, Judith Coker, Shauna Curtis, Thierry Devos, Roger Dunn, Bonnie Field, Dave Georgetti, and Douglas teDuits, and the students enrolled in my spring 2008 Psychology and the Law and spring 2008 Psychology of Women courses. These individuals have my profound thanks and I hope that their efforts are clear in the following pages. I thank Rebecca Gunnels for her help with the book cover design. Without institutional support this project would not have been possible, and I thank my colleagues at the University of Houston-Downtown, Adolfo Santos, Patrick Williams, and Provost Molly Woods, for their direct support. Additionally, I offer thanks to the 2007–2008 Faculty Development Leave Committee that provided support that allowed me to work on this project without distraction. Many years ago Roger Dunn introduced me to the concept of schemas and my life changed forever. The significance of that contribution is revealed in every page. From the training and patience he provided in his role as graduate advisor, to his current generous efforts as a colleague, Campbell Leaper deserves thanks for his consistent support of my work and his extremely useful contributions to the effort of making it as effective as possible. Finally, I express my thanks and appreciation to Melinda Kanner for her extraordinary intellectual, emotional, political, and moral support. Several key concepts and arguments in this book come from her, or conversations with her. It is difficult to imagine how this book could have come to life without her.

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