The bright pages of the history of the 20th century are connected with the words “race”, “gender” and “social class”. Today, these issues remain burning ones and are actively discussed; contemporary science has also turned its attention to them. Race, gender and social class are the aspects of diversity that are in focus of researchers who work in the field of social psychology (Blaine, p.3).
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Nowadays investigating this matter is of big significance: studying the issues of gender, race and social class in social psychology provide background for understanding conflicts and discrimination connected with them.
Considering that social diversity has not only inner impact on a personality (identification), but also on that outer (behavior) (p.17), the subject area of our study is external signs of gender, racial and social class stereotyping in everyday-life setting. The focus of our investigation is manifestations of gender, racial and social class stereotyping in serving clients in public catering: we will observe behavior of waitresses in “Café” and analyze it from the perspective of the mentioned aspects of stereotyping.
High research activity is connected with studying racial, gender and social class diversity and its signs (Blaine, p.3). There are a set of questions that remain in the focus of perpetual study, such as the “ratio” of inherent and social influence on racial and gender stereotyping, connection between identity and behavior from the perspective of social diversity, influence of stereotyping on relations et al.
Much attention is paid to studying identity, stereotyping and influence of social diversity on behavior and relations at school. Fries-Britt and Griffin (2007) provide results of qualitative research that revealed difficulty that high-achieving Afro-American students had in disproving negative stereotyping.
Rydell, McConnell and Beilock (2009) found that reminding about negative stereotypes about groups that students belong to decreases their performance, which corroborates that identity influences behavior. Lott (2010) discusses the impact of race, gender and social class diversity on attitudes, relations and behavior. In (Chryssochoou, p.35-41), different social psychological theories of prejudice are systematized: the connection between diversity and behavior is emphasized.
Researchers pay significant attention to choosing groups that would give opportunity to get valuable knowledge on the mentioned issues. For example, in their article, Santon, Meyer-Lindenberg and Deruelle (2010) study such issues as racial and gender stereotyping. The peculiarity of the research is focusing on Williams syndrome children.
One of the main symptoms of the Williams syndrome is mental disability; this influences cognitive, behavioral and emotive processes, which makes the research of particular significance: these processes have important role in forming stereotypes, and in case the corresponding functions are depressed, the research will provide more “ingenuous” results of studying race and gender.
WS children have reduced social fear and tent to contact with individuals who would be considered not approachable by children without intellectual difficulties.
In contrast to the control group of children that showed high pro-Caucasian bias, the WS children group demonstrated no evidence of race bias. At the same time, both groups showed gender bias. The authors make the conclusion that social fear plays significant role in racial stereotyping and is not important for gender stereotyping.
The choice of our field of observation also gives us grounds to expect interesting and valuable research results, which will be discussed in the Methodology chapter.
The method used in the research was unobtrusive naturalistic observation. This method implies that observer does not intervene into the events and thus does not influence them (McBurney & White, p.222).
The research implied observation of behavior of waitresses that supposedly might include certain signs of racial, gender and social class stereotyping. The focus of the research was on the behavior of two female waitresses, age about 20-23 years old. One of the waitresses was Black, and the second one was White.
For observation, “Café” was chosen. It is an establishment oriented on clients of lower and lower-middle class income; “Café” is the place where waitresses serve clients, but, unlike in middle-class restaurant, clients come to have a fast meal rather than spend much time enjoying food and interior. “Café” was chosen for two reasons:
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- Communication between waitresses and clients is more natural and democratic, but implies politeness and hospitality. Results of observation in a high-class restaurant could be more blurred due to establishments’ high requirements to waiters’ courtesy.
- Waitresses have to serve clients quite quickly; thus, it is possible to expect their demonstration of natural behavior and reactions.
Observation implied using an observation tool in the form of two 3-column tables (Table 1); thus, behavior of two waitresses was fixed in different tables.
Observation Tool (Header)
In the first column, time of events and actions was fixed: notes were made each 2-5 minutes. In the second column, actions and events were put down. The third column was aimed at scripting details and annotations.
The time of observation was 1 hour 50 minutes. During this period, 16 entries were made in the first table (black waitress) and 14 entries were made in the second table (white waitress). After the stage of observation, the data was processed by means of creating systematizing tables which will be presented in the Observation and Data chapter.
Observation and Data
During the time of observation, waitresses worked with the following groups of clients:
- Students and teenagers. Young male and female clients mostly set in groups. Observation focused on two groups of white clients (4 males, and 1 male and 1 female) and two groups of black clients (3 males and 2 females).
- Adults of the lower and lower-middle class. Black and white males and females visited “Café” alone or in groups. Observation focused on two groups of white clients (2 females and 1 male, and 1 male and 1 female), 1 group of black clients (2 males and 2 females), 1 mixed group (1 black male and 1 white female), and on clients who came alone (1 white male, 1 black male, 1 white female).
- Asian clients. One group of Asian lower-class adults was observed (2 males and 2 females).
- German-speaking clients. A group of foreign adult clients (2 males and 2 females) was observed. The visitors supposedly belonged to the middle-class and made a substantial order. Clients communicated with waitresses in English.
The observation data is systematized in Table 2.
Table 2. Systematized Observation Data
|Criterion||Black Waitress||White Waitress|
|1. Average time before first approaching to clients of another race (not Asian)||5||5|
|2. Average time before first approaching to clients of the same race||3||4|
|3. Time before first approaching to the Asian group||6||–|
|4. Time before first approaching to the German-Speaking group||–||3|
|5. Time before first approaching to students and teens||5||5|
|6. Time before first approaching to adults||4||4|
|7. Average total time of talking with clients of another race (not Asian)||6||6|
|8. Average total time of talking with clients of the same race||9||7|
|9. Average total time of talking with Asian clients||5||–|
|10. Average total time of talking with students and teens||6||6|
|11. Average total time of talking with adults||8||7|
|12. Average total time of talking with the German-Speaking group||–||9|
|13. Expression of emotions when communicating with clients of another race (including Asian)||low||low|
|14. Expression of emotions when communicating with clients of the same race||high||high|
|15. Prevailing speaking to clients of the same gender in mixed groups||yes||yes|
In the next chapter, the criteria will be commented in detail.
Thirteen criterion used in the research were focused on recognizing signs of gender, racial and social class stereotyping. First, we will comment data on 13 criteria; after that, we will summarize the results and make conclusions.
Criteria 1,2,3 (race).
Both waitresses came to the clients of the same race faster than to clients of another race. The black waitress (BW) demonstrated the difference brighter (6 and 5 v. 3) than the white waitress (WW) (5 v.4); however, the trend coincided in both cases.
Criteria 4,5,6 (social class).
Both waitresses approached to adults faster than to students; they demonstrated the same time in both cases. WW approached to the German-speaking group faster than to other clients.
Sometimes waitresses were busy, which was the reason of their delay in approaching to clients. However, this delay was not significant and is not considered to have strong impact on the results.
Waitresses did not choose clients to serve based on race, gender or social class. They simply approached to clients who had not been served.
Criteria 7,8,9 (race).
Average total time of talking with clients demonstrates how much time a waitress spent on average when talking with a client or a group of clients from the moment she first approached to them to the moment clients left. Both waitresses talked with clients of the same race longer than with clients of another race. BW talked with black clients longer than WW talked with white clients; BW talked less time with Asian clients than both waitresses talked with other clients.
Criteria 10,11,12 (social class).
Both waitresses talked with teenagers and students less than with adults. BW talked with adults linger than WW. WW talked with the German-speaking group linger than both waitresses talked with other clients.
Annotation. German-speaking clients talked English well; thus, time of communication between them and WW was not influenced by language barrier.
Criteria 13, 14 (race).
Both waitresses talked more emotionally with clients of the same race than with clients of another race.
Criteria 15 (gender).
Both waitresses addressed females more actively when talking with females who were alone and in groups rather than with males. BW and WW talked with females more emotionally and used longer phrases. In groups including male and female clients BW and WW addressed females more actively.
Having observed behavior of two waitresses in “Café” and processed the data got during the observation, we can make the following conclusion: the statement about influence of social diversity and identity on behavior was corroborated by the results of observation.
Manifestations of race, gender and social class stereotyping were found in the behavior of both waitresses. They communicated with clients of the same race and the same gender more actively. Waitresses also communicated more actively with adults and people of the middle class than with young clients.
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