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A Critical Discussion Of The Psychological Explanations Of Prejudice

1888 words - 8 pages

A Critical Discussion of the Psychological Explanations of Prejudice

Gordon Allport described prejudice as “aversive or hostile attitude
toward a person who belongs to a group, simply because he belongs to
that group, and is therefore presumed to have the objectionable
qualities ascribed to that group”. Prejudice is assuming things about
a person putting them into a group. The aim of this essay is discuss
the attempts to reduce prejudice and explain how successful they have
been. In this essay, it is prejudice in the form of racism and
prejudice against homosexuals that I will use

It is important that we know what discrimination means. Discrimination
is very similar to prejudice, rather than just being a thought or
opinion on something, discrimination is the thoughts from being
prejudice influencing a person’s behaviour in a negative way.

There are many explanations of prejudice given by psychologists and I
will write about these in my essay. One psychological theory by
Stephan and Stephen called Integrated Threat Theory of Prejudice
describes how fear can cause prejudice. This fear has a few sources,
one being that a person has the belief that the other person will do
them harm, another is the other persons attitude will challenge their
own and the belief that any contact with the other person will cause
embarrassment, rejection or ridicule (2000 Clayton Tucker-Ladd).

Another theory by psychologists to explain prejudice is that we learn
prejudiced attitudes. An example of this is it can pay to be
prejudiced, such as the boss who pays his female worker 20% less than
males. Another example in which people learn prejudiced attitudes can
be to get the respect off certain people if they portray they have the
same views (2000 Clayton Tucker-Ladd).

Prejudice explained psychologically can be a self-fulfilling prophecy,
this is when you believe something to be true and consequently make it
true. There has been an experiment, carried out by Robert Rosenthal
and Lenore Jacobson (1968). In this experiment, the men told a
teacher that there were certain children in her class who were going
to be intellectual late starters. Over time, the teacher was marking
these children up and believing that this improvement was happening,
even though it was random how the children were picked. Another
interesting aspect from this study was that the children who were the
intellectual ones but were not brought to her attention did not get
improved grades or even noticed by the teacher at all.

The last psychological explanation about prejudice is that of familial
inheritance. Familial inheritance is the enforcing of stereotypes
that parents may have in their households and then pass to their
children, such as men do not do any housework, or the bigoted father
who socialises his children...

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