A while back I read “The justification-suppression model of prejudice: An approach to the history of prejudice research” and am only now posting little bits and piece of it. It’s a bloody good read. Anyone concerned about confronting the prejudice in their own heads and hearts, should read this 35 page article. (And as they say “Everyone has a wide variety of different prejudices (Fox, 1992), but some prejudices are common and uniformly distributed in the population, others are arcane and rare. We do not suggest that everyone has every prejudice, but that everyone has some prejudices.”)
Here’s the lovely concept of “memory capital”
Covering is the process in which the underlying prejudice that motivates an emotion, behavior, or cognition is obscured by focusing attention on a plausible alternative motivation that is socially or personally acceptable….Legitimacy credits. One covering strategy that can release prejudice is the building up of legitimacy credits, which can counteract the expression of opinions or behavior that might be construed as prejudiced. Legitimacy credits are “memory capital” of evidence on previous non-prejudiced behavior, which can be called upon to offset a given release of prejudice….
Legitimacy credits can emerge from over-favoring groups toward which one has a socially unacceptable antipathy. Dutton (1976) argues that reverse discrimination typically occurs for relatively trivial types of interaction (e.g., signing a petition), which serves to maintain discrimination in more important interactions. If a White can establish an egalitarian self-image quickly and easily by trivial compliance, s/he may not have to face the larger challenge of alleviating significant racial problems.
Dutton, D.G. (1976). Tokenism, reverse discrimination, and egalitarianism in interracial behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 93-107.
That’s a kind of emotional hormesis, that Dutton is talking about there.