Prejudice is the rigid irrational attitudes and opinions possessed by individuals or members of a specific group about another individual or group. Consequently, being prejudiced is defined as having preconceived beliefs regarding some people groups or cultural practices. In addition to being preconceived and difficult to change, prejudices can be positive or negative. While is possible to be prejudiced and fail to act upon the beliefs or attitudes, negative prejudices can result in discrimination. This negative form of prejudice is practiced in order to guard opportunities through denying access to groups of people. There is an urgent need to lessen prejudice because of the changing social structure, demographics, work place settings, and education settings. However, many efforts to reduce prejudices in these various settings have been legal and have failed to confront the dynamics of the disorder.
There are two prejudicial processes that operate differently from each other and are important to understand in order to develop mechanisms of reducing prejudicial behavior. These two divergent prejudicial processes are & #8230;
The unintentional prejudice processes are actions that are automatic since they are not decided upon by the individual during the moment of behaving. While they may be in agreement with or disagreement with the intentions of the individual, they do not permit the observer to know a person's intentions (Cole, n.d.). Understanding the intentions of these unintentional prejudicial actions is challenging because of the risks of stimulating guilt, avoidance and denial especially if the intention was no there. On the other hand, if the actions were intentional prejudice, it's unlikely that a simple confrontation will change the person's beliefs or opinions.
The unintentional prejudicial actions are almost universal because they are acquired during early learning through the passive acceptance of information. Since these actions have weak motivational strengths, they are practiced with lack of awareness or without re-evaluation. The pattern of unintentional prejudicial behavior can be broken through the removal of the guilt factor, development of awareness of the dynamics causing the actions, increasing interactions with people who trigger the actions, and a habit of thinking non-prejudicial thoughts.
People with this prejudicial process tend to share or have some common and fundamental personality characteristics. For example, they may generally have had difficult childhoods, more physical punishment, less trust, and lesser empathy abilities. Furthermore, these people tend to view human relationships on the basis of authority and power and thus remain on guard and have challenges in forming close relationships. Intentional prejudicial actions are basically a more integrated behavior form because it's an integral part of the person's identity. Consequently, the intentional prejudicial processes and actions are usually planned are extremely difficult to change. The strong resistance to change is because of the deep historical personality development patterns and the integrated nature of the reaction. The intentional prejudicial actions are developed in later learning stages through the active learning process. The process also has a strong motivational strength because of the strong link to personal identity.
Forms of Prejudice:
There are various forms of prejudicial actions regardless of whether it involves intentional or unintentional prejudicial processes. These forms of prejudice include affective, cognitive, and co-native prejudices that have continued to be prevalent through the entire human history. These forms of the prejudice have continued to occur despite of changes taking place in educational, work place, social structure, and demographics because of globalization. Prejudice occurs in various forms including & #8230;
Prejudicial actions toward racial minority groups have continued to be a main problem in many countries across the globe whether it's openly displayed or not. This form of prejudice develops at an early stage in life and largely remains stable through the adulthood stage. In most cases, children learn racial prejudice through exposure to other people's unfair attitudes and actual outcomes of racial discrimination (Schamotta, 2011).
This is one of the major forms of prejudicial actions since children develop social groups depending on gender at an early stage in life i.e. about three years of age. While developing these gender-based social groups, these children sometimes use gender labels for others and themselves precisely. However, pre-school children display a strong bias toward same-sex playmates, which demonstrates that they have developed ideas of the superiority of their own sex. As compared to females, men are regarded to be more sexually prejudiced because of the sex-role stereotypes.
While the prevalence of negative homosexual stereotypes has declined in many Western countries, the occurrence of homophobic beliefs has increased. Consequently, sexual preference prejudice has continued to occur with the development of discrimination against gays and lesbians based on the culture, environment and media to which an individual is exposed. This has resulted in increased prejudice against same-sex homosexuals than opposite-sex prejudice.
Development of Prejudice in Individuals:
Since people are not born prejudiced, prejudicial actions are learned because people naturally recognize differences at an early stage in life. As children, individuals acquire beliefs and values associated with the differences they come to recognize from the society ("A Look At Research," n.d.). According to the findings of research, there are several steps of development of prejudice in children and individuals including & #8230;
As mentioned earlier, individuals are not born prejudiced but they acquire values and beliefs from the society as they develop. This values and beliefs are usually based on an individual's alertness, recognition, view, and understanding of differences. The awareness and recognition of differences happen in social groupings, which have an impact on a person's development.
The second major way with which individuals become prejudiced is through identification, which basically involves labeling, classifying and naming people. During the process, individuals develop feelings and thoughts that become an opinion or tendency toward their interactions with other people.
Prejudice develops in an individual based on his/her priorities, favors and valuing of a physical attribute, another person and lifestyle. These attributes result in the person's preference depending on the similarities and differences with the other people. As a result of the person's likes or dislikes of other people, his/her social interactions with those people is mainly impacted and can lead to prejudice.
Social Factors that Contribute to Development of Prejudice:
According to social scientists and theorists, there are certain social factors that contribute to the development of prejudice in individuals including & #8230;
The development of many prejudices in individuals seems to be transferred from parents to their children. However, additional socialization factors like the media also perpetuate undignified labels and images about mixed groups resulting in prejudices toward those groups.
The pressures to conform to the perspectives of associates, friends, and families can also be a formidable factor that contributes to the development of prejudice in individuals. This is likely to contribute to prejudices, particularly when an individual receives social support from the groups.
Based on the findings of social studies, prejudices develop rapidly when people are in direct competition that results in economic incentives such as jobs ("Prejudice & Discrimination," n.d.). Actually, the impact of economic incentives on the development of prejudices is demonstrated by their dramatic increase of prejudice during times of social and economic pressures.
Individuals with an authoritarian personality firmly conform and submit to their superiors while snubbing those that are regarded to be inferior. In this process, such individuals express prejudiced opinions about those considered to be inferiors. Authoritarian personality may be traced in parents who are unloving and strict disciplinarians.
This is defined as the tendency to analyze the cultures of other people based on an individual's own cultural norms and values. This is a factor that contributes to the development of prejudice since many cultures have ethnocentric trends that include stereotypical thinking.
This is the process with which certain groups establish clear boundaries between themselves and other people resulting in prejudice. For example, declining to marry outside an ethnic group is a means with which group closure is obtained and prejudice developed.
Conflict theory is likely to result in the development of prejudice when privileged groups defend their unique power, social status, and power while ensuring that minority groups do not compete for resources. In some cases, the privileged groups may use extreme violent acts to safeguard their interests while the minority groups may also hit back through violence.
Sources of Prejudice:
The development of prejudicial actions in individuals is not an inborn characteristic but acquired in growth stages. These actions are acquired depending on an individual's continual exposure to the contributing factors and sources. Some of the major sources of prejudice are & #8230;
Learning Environments and Institutions:
Many comprehensive literature reviews have concluded that the genesis of prejudice in individuals is not DNA related since prejudice is mainly acquired through learning. The development of prejudice in individuals is mainly attributed to environmental terms regardless of psychologists' talks about prejudiced personality. An individual's learning environment and institution has…