Psychological Concepts In American History X

980 words - 4 pages

American History X is a movie about a young man named Derek who is a member of the neo-Nazi movement. Like the rest of his family, Derek is racist, extremely prejudiced and discriminates against all minorities. Throughout the movie we see the older brother, Derek change his stereotypical beliefs and attempt to save his brother from making the same mistakes that he once made. American History X is based around the Psychological concepts of discrimination, stereotyping, and prejudice.
The first concepts portrayed in the movie are discrimination and prejudice. There has been a lot of research conducted on discrimination to support the behavior of the characters. In “The antecedents and consequences of racial/ethnic discrimination during adolescence: Does the source of discrimination matter?” the issue of discrimination is discussed. This article concludes that discrimination and unfair treatment is a part of the everyday life experiences of adolescents of color. In the movie American History X, Derek, his younger brother Danny and other cast members discriminate against any race that is not Caucasian. Prejudice is one of the main concepts in American History X. Prejudice is a negative attitude toward someone else based upon their gender, race or membership within a particular group. Many prejudice beliefs can lead to hatred of another gender or race. For example, Derek’s father expresses his dislike for the minorities that got their job. Derek and his hate for the minorities gave the “skinheads” the idea to raid a Korean owned grocery store.
Two other psychological concepts depicted in the movie are stereotyping and group antagonism. In American History X, one of the first scenes presented are three African American men attempting to steal Derrick’s car. According to the article “Differential social perception and attribution of intergroup violence: Testing the lower limits of stereotyping of Blacks” one of the main stereotypes given to African American’s is that they are impulsive and given to crimes and violence. Throughout American History X every African American is stereotyped as a gun carrying gang member. The main character, Derek, his brother Danny and the rest of his friends are stereotyped as neo-Nazi’s who hate anyone and everyone who is not white Protestant and discriminate against all minorities. In “Intergroup anxiety effects on implicit racial evaluation and stereotyping” we learn that interracial interactions often elicit anxiety. For example, in an interaction between a White American and Black American, the White person may worry about being perceived as racist, whereas the Black person may worry about being the target of bias. The experience of intergroup anxiety in such situations can cause problems for a social interaction, such as misunderstandings between interaction partners and diminished rapport. When we begin to categorize people into different stereotypes we see them differently than we see ourselves or our own race....

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