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prejudice

By Eleonora-Torassa Mar 25, 2014 1395 Words
Prejudice is an inevitable aspect of social life

Prejudice not only affects individuals or whole groups of people, but it may concern entire cultures and their respective behaviours towards other societies. There is plenty of evidence which confirms the presence of prejudice from the past to the present day. The demolition of the Roman Amphitheatre in Pula, Croatia, during the 13th century is a good example. For instance, when the Venetians ruled Croatia, they took most of the stones which formed the Amphitheatre and used them for their own buildings (back?) in Venice. This, in fact, happened because of political prejudice and, probably, was also due to the financial difficulties that the Venetians were in. It is also very common that Europeans discriminate against black ethnic groups due to their physical appearance and their different way of thinking. Many African tribes, on the other hand, think that Europeans are the main reason for witchcraft in their countries. Religion also contributes to growing prejudice. Everyday, people from different religious backgrounds try to assert themselves as the “superior” race with the only real religion, making havoc and suffering among other cultures. Indeed, it should be remembered the serious outrage in (against?) Wester Countries, in 2001, because of the destruction of the ancient Buddha of Bamiyan statues in Afghanistan by Taliban, muslims. The Director General of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Koichiro Matsuura, described this fact as " a crime against culture” (2001). This barbaric act is based on the certainty that a "civilisation" is superior compared to others that, therefore, should be eliminated. Given this evidence in favour of the continuation of prejudice in our society, one instinctive question is whether there is something that people can do to reduce it. The debate between those who think that some strategical solutions exist and those who support the thesis that prejudice is an inevitable aspect that still continues. This essay aims to examine all the aspects that confirm prejudice as a permanent part of our social life, drawing attention to the different kind of stereotypes and, consequently, discriminations, starting from people childhoods.

Before focusing on different types of prejudice, it is essential to be familiar with its exact meaning. According to Gordon Allport, perhaps the briefest definition is: “thinking ill of others without sufficient warrant” (1954). It is not only an opinion or belief, but a negative attitude toward people who belong to specific groups and includes feelings such as contempt and dislike.

Hate and prejudice is not inevitable

Prejudice can come in different types. It can come about on biases such as gender and race. Even people of the same background can experience prejudice because of their economic and social status. Everyone experiences prejudice so it cannot be avoidable but it can be reduced (Sandhu & Brown, 1996). Prejudice is negative feelings towards someone or something without knowing the facts about that person or thing (Sandhu & Brown, 1996). Each year organizations around the world use millions of dollars to design antiprejudice announcements, publications on the internet and that are printed, and even announcements on the television and radio programs where everyone can see the announcements (Plant & Devine, 2009). Descriptive and prescriptive social norms predict behavior based on the tradition of prejudice, conformity, and social consensus (Plant & Devine, 2009). At the age of 3 years, children are able to tell between and to recognize social groups, especially when these are easy to tell between (such as, by skin color), labeled (such as, Blacks and African Americans), significant by group size (such as, minority status). This early awareness at the age of three seems to increase as the child gets to the age of about seven or eight years of age (Degner & Wentura, 2010). The Implicit Association Test is the well-known indirect response measure of attitudes in social psychology. First, the Implicit Association Test is a measure that compares and does not allow differences of the positivity of the ingroup from the negativity of the out-group. Second, the Implicit Association Test is a measure based on categories that reviews the reactions that the participants have to given levels of categories (e.g. Blacks and Whites). The most important task of the participants is to label the targets with regard to their valence as positive or negative (Degner & Wentura, 2010). The main focal point of the studies was to investigate whether automatic prejudice start in the affective priming mission differs to the age of the participants (Degner & Wentura, 2010). In study one; the researchers used pictures of Turks and Germans to present to the participants as the primes. In study two, the researchers used the pictures of the Turks and Germans but they masked them so the participants could not be aware of the identification of the pictures. In study three, the researchers’ seeked to make a direct assessment between the emotional priming mission and the Implicit Association Test. In study four, the researchers examined the hypothesis that the difference in age found in automatic prejudice in the task is related to the use of the ethnic categories in children (Degner & Wentura, 2010). Participants reacted faster to the targets of the same mind set than they did with the targets of different mindsets that reacted slower. Children are similar to the adults in which the children automatically assessed stimuli as the adults would (Degner & Wentura, 2010). The one thing that would reduce prejudice would be the intergroup contact; the two groups have to share similar tasks and status and are involved in activities that promote interactions that have a meaning and interpersonal (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). Gordon Allport (1954) wrote a book, The Nature of Prejudice, in which he told about his hypothesis about contact. Allport described several reasons that helped with the reduction of prejudice. These reasons consist of (1) the persons from different groups form equal status among them (2) the recognition of goals among the common group (3) the need to promote or enhance cooperation among the two groups members (4) obvious approval and support by the authority figures among them. Intergroup contact leads to prejudice being on the low side but not only for members of the out-group but also for the whole population of the out-group. Numerous studies have reported that stereotyping and prejudice exist by the child’s fourth birthday (Bigler & Liben, 2007). The nonverbal behaviors towards group members or show in the group members presence, like whites becoming nervous or generally withdrawn in the African Americans presence, for example, is a basis of implicit information possible to cause prejudice. Laws, for example, explicity restrict adults’ use of group categories to children labeling in some ways, like race labeling in classrooms for example, and might extend to others, like forbidding routine labeling of gender for example. Laws also affect the implicit use of group categories, like allowing or prohibiting same-sex or single-race schools for example. Once labeling along some specific aspect occurs, stereotyping and prejudice are possible to follow afterwards. When other people put the groups in categories, treated, or arranged differently, children come to associate groups as being different in ways that the child has feelings towards and to show specific bias toward their own group (Bigler & Liben, 2007). Carpenter, Zarate, and Garza manipulated whether a belief about color-blind or multicultural was most important to the White students responsible for the judging about the Black Americans. Participants in both experimental circumstances demonstrated less positivity to the in-group relation to the out-group evaluated with a no-essay control. Carpenter, Zarate, and Garza demonstrated that priming a superordinate classification or priming the positive differences in the intergroup could reduce one characteristic of the intergroup prejudice (Carpenter, Zarate, & Garza, 2007). The multicultural treatment for both the explicit and implicit prejudice reduced in addition. If people actively identify the group differences positively and make significant boundaries for the group then the intergroup relations can improve by the cultural pluralism approach. Individuals can realize their need for uniqueness, also reducing the want to derogate outgroups during identification of the group differences (Carpenter, Zarate & Garza, 2007). The cultural pluralism approach does not require the specific group contact projected by some of the models of prejudice reduction that is an important advantage of the cultural pluralism approach. However, the cultural pluralism approach plans to change people’s direction of beliefs toward various groups, not just ethnic groups. In addition, differences in behavior related to interpersonal created greater prejudice (Carpenter, Zarate, & Garza, 2007).

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