Predjudice and Discrimination

Prejudice and Discrimination are an all to common part of
our cognitive social being, but many social psychologists
believe that it can be stopped, but only with the help of social
conditioning. In this writing I hope to explain and point out
some key terms and points made in my assigned chapter.
Prejudice refers to a special type of attitude, usually
something negative toward any group or ethnicity that is not of
one’s own social class. Attitude plays a very important role in
ones cognitive framework, in that it forces our minds to process
information on certain social groups differently making a
cognitive earmark for that individual group (stereotypes).
Racially prejudiced persons take significantly longer than other
persons who are not racially prejudiced to decide whether
strangers whose racial identity is ambiguous belong to one
racial category or another(Ch.6 Pp.211). Why does prejudice
exist? Individuals hold prejudice views because doing so
allows them to bolster their own self image(Ch.6 Pp.213). By
doing this a person is making themselves believe that they are
better than another, giving them a feeling of greater
importance. A second reason for holding prejudice views is
that doing so can save us considerable cognitive effort(Ch.6
Pp.213). In sorts prejudice views are a form of collective
representation because a person forms views of certain social
groups through analyzing the individual traits of one group
member, forming one opinion for the whole group.
Now when prejudice is acted upon by an individual it is
called discrimination.In recent years discrimination has
decreased, yet it has all but vanished from our society. Early
on in our history people were less subtle than they are today
when it comes discrimination. Everything in our society was
segregated, every group had their own facilities and were not
to be used by members of a different group. At this time
people felt less remorse for expressing openly racist views.
They would state that they were against school desegregation ,
that they viewed minority groups as inferior in various ways ,
and that they would consider moving away if persons belonging
to these groups took up residence in their neighborhood(Ch.6
Pp.215, Sears 1988).These days many people wouldn’t dare
express these views because of the way social conditioning
has made it so that the person would be looked down upon by
his peers.“New “ racism opposed to the “old fashion’ kind is
far more subtle these days because of the enlightenment of our
time, yet it still exists. Some examples of this modern racism
are that of Tokenism and reverse discrimination. Tokenism is
the performance of trivial or small scale positive actions for
people who are the target of prejudice (Ch.6 Pp.216) These
are just ideological terms used today to explain social
One of the oldest explanations for prejudice in our society
is that of the realistic conflict theory. According to this view,
prejudice stems from competition among social groups over
valued commodities or opportunities. In short, prejudice
develops out of the struggle over jobs, adequate housing ,
good schools, and other desirable out comes (Ch.6Pp.219).
As competition steadily increases social class label their
opposition as “Enemies” , viewing their own group as the
superior power. The outcomes of these confrontations can
sometimes lead to violent clashes.The end result being
From a dialectical standpoint such prejudices are not
innate in form yet taught at an early age. According to the
social learning view , children aquire negative attitudes toward
various social groups because they hear such views expressed
by parents , friends, teachers, and others, and because they
are directly rewarded for adopting these views (Ch.6 Pp.222).
Yet another theory on the existence of prejudice is one of
simplicity, people generally divide the social world into two
distinct categories: Us and Them. In other words you either
belong to the in group or the out group. Such behavior is
described as social categorization.
We may not know it but everyday we use certain cognitive
mechanisms too hold prejudice or discrimination. Such
mechanisms, like stereotypes, are often used.A stereotype,
often used to delegate views a social group is based on the
traits or attributes of a few members of that group.Cognitive
frameworks are often laid because of stereotypes, this is a
dangerous thing because of the opinions that people set on
groups which are unfairly represented. Even worse are the
stereotype-threats, these are the threats perceived by the
Finally I am brought to gender based prejudice, this is one
of the most widespread prejudices of all. It affects more than
half of the human race. At the core of this prejudice are
gender stereo types, cognitive framework suggesting that
males and females posses sharply different patterns of traits
and behavior(Ch.6Pp241) Females remain as the main target
of gender based prejudice. This type of discrimination is mainly
brought about because of gender role expectations. For some
reason or another females tend to hold lower expectations
about their everyday lives. To achieve a higher social status a
high level of self confidence is often positively enforced for a
woman wanting to obtain higher than average success. Sexual
harassment, another form of gender prejudice is most seen in
the work place because of the constant interactions between
males and females on a frequent basis. The sex role spill-over
theory makes some very curious predictions . According to this
framework, women working in certain environments-ones
which most employees are male-will be more likely to
experience sexual harassment than ones working in more
traditional environments(ch.6Pp.245). Yet people will tend to
view such harassment, when it occurs as less threatening or
coercive than it would be in traditional environments. This is
because they are perceived as role deviates-people who
From the dialectic point of view we have come a long way in
diminishing racism and discrimination. However, we still have a way to
go before our world truly reflects our ideologies.
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