Significance of Implicit Theories and Competition in Intergroup Bias

Thursday, November 14th, 2013, 11:28 WIB

It has by now become agreement among psychologists that people can make their own theories. According to Dweck’s arguments about implicit theories (1999), there are entity and incremental theories among people. In this regards, entity theory argues that common people are beliefs on his/her intelligence constancy and he/she can not change it at all. On the contrary, incremental theory emphasizes that normal people beliefs that his/her intelligence is impressionable, and it can grow if he/she work on it. Reflecting on the entity theories, it is relevant to raise the question of how do competition and beliefs about the constancy or impressionability of abilities combine to affect bias towards people of different ethnic backgrounds?

On one hand, some implicit theories can lead to negative judgment of outgroups. On the other hand, implicit theories may generate well-liked judgment of outgroups. Furthermore, competition and negative attitudes toward outgroup may be happened when people discern scarce job vacancies. In consequence, skilled immigrants usually become targets of resentment, and their discharge from the country become increasingly preferred (Esses, et al., 1998; McLaren, 2003). In other words, when people become aware of competition they tend to unwelcome to immigrants (Jackson & Esses, 2000).

Haidar Buldan Thontowi, lecturer at the Department of Psychology, Universitas Gadjah Mada, presented these enlightening points. Thontowi become speaker at the CRCS-ICRS Wednesday Forum on November 13, 2013. He holds Master of Arts in Psychology from New York University in 2013. His research interests are social psychology, prejudice, and lay beliefs.

At the forum, Thontowi convincingly presented his brilliant hypothesis that people who uphold beliefs that intelligence is fixed and are primed with competition, would show the extreme degree of bias. This is because they use out-group derogation as a way of getting over their exceptional social identity threat. Throghout his research, Thontowi tested the hypothesis by inducing participants with either a constant or impressionable beliefs of intelligence, priming the participants with competition, and then measuring intergroup bias. The sample of his research consist of 55 Javanese students from Indonesia (45 female and 10 male).

Furthermore, Thontowi control exposure to group conflict with his dexterity, he measured participants’ bias towards the Chinese. Then, he found significant effects of group bias with Javanese students rating the Chinese more negatively than the Javanese (p = .002). Moreover, the primary effects of beliefs of constancy or impressionability of intelligence were also valuable (p = .004) but this was not the case for competition (p = .22). In this sense, it is surprising that his findings can lead to conclusion that Javanese students holding malleable beliefs about intelligence were more biased compared to participants holding fixed beliefs of intelligence. These are different from findings of previous researches. Therefore, he may attribute this unique finding to cultural distinctions among the current sample and samples from previous studies. Accordingly, the recent study provides support for the consequences of belief abilities upon intergroup bias and focus on the need for more research on precisely how those processes are affected by cultural issues. (admin,che)