Prejudice and Stereotypes Essay Essay

Flashcard maker : Lily Taylor

A prejudice is an extreme stereotype. A stereotype is an attitude towards a person or group of people based on some physical characteristic of physical facts despite the existence of evidence to the contrary. Prejudice is defined as the irrational preconceived opinion not based on reason or actual experience, which leads to preferential treatment of some people and unfavorable bias or hostility against others due to ignorance of facts (Sabates, 2012). It literally means unfair pre-judgment towards a group of people which leads to discrimination of the members of the group which could be social or racial. It is also defined as a preconceived notion about a group of people not based on existing facts but on sheer ignorance of the contrary evidence to negate the opinion propounded. For example when a man says that women should be kept in the home, he is prejudiced towards women.

Prejudice has existed since time immemorial hence no need for much demonstration although several experiments have sought to establish its existence. It is a fact that prejudices remain fairly stable over time meaning that once one has prejudice, he/she will keep it. People often recall better the facts which support their stereotype; hence a filtering process reinforces and sustains the prejudice. A prejudice gives the person who holds it some sense of superiority over the discriminated group which is irrational; not justifiable (Sabates, 2012).

There are several theories which attempt to explain the origins of prejudice. They inculcate: scapegoat theory, cultural theory and the authoritarian personality theories (Jackson, 2011). Prejudices are closely connected to ego-defense which leads to scape-goating. The scapegoat theory explains that prejudice is a way for people to blame others for their problems and is supported by the fact that prejudice seems higher during tough times. People who are different from one are good scapegoats because one is separated from them. The scape-goating theory is derived from Freud a French social psychologist who argued that people seek to displace their frustration and aggressions on to substitute objects when it is impossible to express anger towards the actual cause. Freud also argued that aggression is caused by frustration and that aggression causes frustration, which means that once the subject has got into the path of ego-defense and scape-goating, the subject has entered a vicious circle in which one emotion will lead to the other and vice –versa (Jackson, 2011).

Thodor Adorno who fled Nazi Germany propounded his theory which explains what makes a person prejudiced. He blamed authoritarian personality which involves rigid thinking, seeing things in black and white, obeying authority and believing in a hierarchical structure of society (Jackson, 2011). To insinuate that people with that personality believe that some people are better than others. Adorno fostered the idea that authoritarian personality tends towards prejudice. The culture theory is another theory which says that prejudice is part of a culture’s norms or rules and that it is passed on via culture. Culture theory says that children are taught stereotypes of other groups which leads to discrimination and prejudice.
Basing on the general theory of prejudice that built up on various concepts such stereotypes, authoritarian personality and scapegoating, a lot of impacts are observed in state or national levels. Prejudice is part of inherent characteristics of national culture. Stereotypes about certain groups of people in a given state can enjoy currency in that society and unintentionally color the attitudes, thinking and behavior of its affiliates. The stereotypes are forms of delusion whereby people who express nothing more than the ethnically current degree of chauvinism cannot be said to suffer from psychopathological delusions (Chin, 2010). This means that they are the sufferers of indoctrination with bogus stereotypes.
Those people who show either no ethnic or little prejudice stand for the norm of psychological adjustment and health. This form normally entitled democratic personality is undogmatic and flexible in its thinking targeting majority of the people in a state (Sabates, 2012). It usually sympathizes with the weak in the society without showing animosity towards deviant people and also is indifferent to power. In the aspect of prejudice, concepts elaborate the norms of narrow-mindedness to offer unfair ruling to given groups of people in a nation. The impact is psychological stress and oppression to the groups coming up diverse views on handling issues and rulings in that state.

The prejudice theory as well presents a psychological response to brutal frustration (Sabates, 2012). This is channeled to a micro level such as small groups of youths with a certain focus. Such groups have their security or status threatened by dominant economic trends that are often supposed to blame scapegoats for their predicament. Mere injustice demoralizes such groups and ensures that its grown is made minimal since the ruling discriminates them with unfair attitude. The fears of insecure groups are skillfully exploited by demagogues seeking power. The struggle for power leads to prejudice on the certain groups and thus negative attitudes towards discouraging their unity.

The concepts on prejudice theory exhibit a very high degree of ethnic prejudice to individuals hence, they suffer from grave personality disorders (Chin, 2010). In this case, they represent the authoritarian personality form with its marked pathological characteristics. They usually cannot come into terms with the reality. The authoritarian syndrome can be reviewed back to psychic damage that is suffered in early childhood level. They are driven by self-destructive and destructive impulses that they can neither control nor acknowledge. They take refuge in a censorious moralism, rigid; identify themselves with the powerful and rich and the turn an aggressive and hateful face to the deviant and the weak (Chin, 2010). This expresses the basic understanding of the concepts especially to my own life and the impact of the unfair justice.


  1. Chin, J. L. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger.
  2. Jackson, L. M. (2011). The psychology of prejudice: From attitudes to social action. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  3. Sabates, A. M. (2012). Social psychology in Christian perspective: Exploring the human condition.

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