Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination

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Most people have experienced prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination at some time in his or her life. There is no doubt social discrimination, prejudice, and hostility still create serious problems and challenges, even in today’s apparently more and more individualized and “enlightened” society. This paper will discuss prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination in the context of social psychology; what the consequences of stereotyping and discrimination are; and strategies to improve attitudes, judgments, and behaviors. Social psychologists recognize prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination “by focusing on whether they involve feelings (affect), cognition, or behaviors.” (Feenstra, 6.1 Prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination, para 1). Prejudice is a negative belief or feeling (attitude) about a particular group of individuals. Prejudices can be passed on from one generation to the next. Cognitive schemas can cause stereotyping and contribute to prejudice. Stereotypes are beliefs about individuals involving their membership in a particular group. These beliefs can be positive, negative, or unbiased. Stereotypes concerning gender, ethnicity, or profession is common in many societies. “Discrimination is negative behavior toward individuals or groups based on beliefs and feelings about those groups. A group you are a part of is called your ingroup. Ingroups might include gender, race, or city or state of residence, as well as groups you might intentionally join. A group you are not a part of is called your outgroup.” (Feenstra, 6.1 Prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination, para 1). Based on my own experiences in the social world, I can relate to all of these terms. The era in which I grew up ushered in the civil rights movement, anti-war protests, hippies, the Cuban missile crisis, and political and feminist activists. The world was a changing place; many times, we saw and heard prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination at its...
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