Fachbereichskolloquium:Prof. Dr. Hans Alves

„The Cognitive-Ecological Challenge of Diversity”


11. Januar 2023 16:15 – 11. Januar 2023 17:45

Dekanatssaal, Fachbereichsgebäude, Gutenbergstraße 18, Erdgeschoss

Prof. Dr. Hans Alves, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
„The Cognitive-Ecological Challenge of Diversity”

In light of the proceeding globalization, societies become more and more diverse regarding people’s ethnic and religious backgrounds, their habits, ideals, and beliefs. While this increasing diversity offers great opportunities, it also comes with great challenges. The human tendency to derogate outgroups and minority groups poses a particular threat to peace and cooperation in diversifying societies. Most available psychological explanations for the formation of negative attitudes and stereotypes towards others rely on people’s selfserving motivations or personalities, which bears the risk of circularity and leaves our understanding of some of societies’ greatest challenges largely incomplete. Based on the research that I have conducted over the past years, I propose a theoretical framework that provides novel explanations for the formation of negative attitudes and stereotypes about outgroups and minorities. Accordingly, these phenomena arise as natural byproducts of innocent cognitive processes and the structure of the external information ecology. This cognitiveecological framework argues that people associate outgroups and minority groups with their distinct attributes which differentiate them from ingroups and majorities. In the external information ecology, however, distinct attributes have a high probability of being negative, and therefore outgroups and minorities suffer a general evaluative disadvantage. In addition, the framework can explain why most existing stereotypes are negative. In the domain of news reporting, it can explain why news recipients overestimate the prevalence of negative attributes and behaviors among members of minority groups, and why politician’s and journalists’ attempts to counteract often backfire.


Prof. Dr. Hans Alves