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Inter-Recial Prejudice - Essay Example

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Inter-Recial Prejudice

Important aspects of this definition are the words ‘damage/ injury’, ‘judgment/ action’ and ‘disregard’. Both damage and disregard may be considered as a result of the judgment passed by the person practicing prejudice upon the person who is at the receiving end. Research in prejudice (Baron and Bryne, 208-209) shows that such judgments are passed on the basis of stereotypes held and on the basis of the discrimination resulting from the stereotypes. Stereotypes are cognitive shortcuts that people use in order to categorize individuals on the basis of a few characteristics; without paying attention to any other characteristics that may distinguish the particular individual from the group. The stereotypes in themselves are not negative; but may be associated with other negative thoughts about the categories, which are then applied to the particular individual without even ascertaining if the individual deserves to be categorized in this manner. Moghaddam (in Schneider, Gruman and Coutts, 345) defines prejudice as ‘an attitude based solely on group membership’. This definition underlines the fact that an individual’s membership to a particular group is an important aspect of the way people view them; and could bias the attitudes of others if they hold stereotypes about the said group. Most types of group memberships are invisible to the outsider – for example, training, education, occupation, and religion. Unless the individual divulges these facts, others are unable to classify him / her on the basis of these affiliations that the individual has. But membership to groups like gender and race are not invisible; and come across as part of the individual’s physical characteristics. Thus, it becomes easy for others to classify an individual on the basis of these factors. When people from different racial background interact, often the first information they share with each other before they even initiate contact is the information supplied by their physical appearance. If an individual holds a negative stereotype against a particular race; he / she is likely to feel prejudiced against individuals from that racial background. This prejudice would be experienced even before there is any communication; and it is likely that due to the pre-existing prejudice, this individual short-changes the other simply due to their racial background (Sears, Peplau, Freedman and Taylor, 417). Baron and Bryne (207) describe another important aspect of why people experience prejudice – social categorization. They describe how people tend to categorize others on the basis of the extent to which they feel similar to those individuals. Persons who are perceived as similar become part of the ‘in-group’, and those who seem different become part of the out group. People also typically feel more favorable towards members of an in-group then towards members of an out-group. This is because people like to feel good about themselves and their group memberships; and thus tend to highlight not just the positive aspects of their individual selves, but those of others they feel similar to. For the same reason, they play down the negative aspects of their own and similar others’ behaviors. On the other hand, people tend to exaggerate the weaknesses of dissimilar others, and play down the positive aspects of their behavior. This leads to the Fundamental attribution error – a fallacy where people attribute positive causes to personal behavior (and as a consequence the behavior of similar others) and negative causes to behaviors of dissimilar others. Although the reason why humans prefer to categorize people into in-groups and out-groups is not properly understood; it is a tendency that is found in all people ...Show more


The Merriam – Webster online dictionary defines the word ‘Prejudice’ as an “injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights”. It further goes on to classify the condition as pertaining to an individual’s legal rights. …
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Inter-Recial Prejudice essay example
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