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Impacts of Prejudice, Stereotypes, and Discrimination in the Context of Social Psychology

Impacts of Prejudice, Stereotypes, and Discrimination in the Context of Social Psychology

In this paper, I will discuss prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination against various groups that affect social norms in society. Personal experiences and facts will be used to support the information in this paper.

Stereotypes and prejudice

Humans’ most serious problems are prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Prejudice and stereotyping are biases that contribute to the creation and maintenance of social inequality. Prejudice refers to people’s feelings and attitudes toward members of other groups, whether positive or negative, conscious or unconscious. Stereotypes are specific beliefs about other groups, such as members’ appearance, behavior, and abilities, that are the polar opposite of this. Stereotypes are cognitive representations of how members of one group are similar to or different from members of other groups.

Gender, race, sexual orientation, and culture are the most common stereotypes. In my hometown of Spirit Lake, for example, a common stereotype is that many Hispanic families do not practice daily hygiene routines; they are perceived to be unwashed and odorous. This stereotype is based on the places of employment for many Hispanics in this area, which include farming, factory, and construction jobs. Another stereotype I was raised with was that African Americans relied solely on the government and did not work. Despite the fact that I have no experience with this stereotype, I have discovered that I still believe it to be true. The media has played a significant role in perpetuating this stereotype because many people grew up watching television, and many shows involving African Americans portray them in this light.


The horrifying mistreatment of specific groups throughout history, such as Jews, African Americans, women, and homosexuals, has been a powerful motivator for the study of prejudice and stereotyping. Today, sexual orientation is a hot potato filled with hatred, loathing, and fear; the LGBT community is statistically one of the world’s most discriminated-against demographics. Not only is there a problem with sexual orientation, but also with gender identity. Transgender people, too, have a place in stereotypical society. Employment termination based on gender identity is legal in 39 states, and employment termination based on sexual orientation is legal in 31 states. Discrimination against the LGBT community occurs outside of the workplace as well. The LGBT community is the target of 14% of all hate crimes in the United States.

Slavery. Prejudice and discrimination have a long and illustrious history. “Slavery was a legal institution that existed in the United States of America between 1620 and 1865 that treated people as property that could be bought and sold and forced to work without pay. Although the international slave trade was prohibited in 1808, internal slave trading continued unabated, and the slave population reached four million before abolition. In 1860, nearly 400,000 families (roughly one in four) in the 15 slave states held slaves, accounting for 8% of all American families” (Gould, 2016). On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued an order freeing all slaves and directed the Union army to liberate slaves held by rebel groups. This occurred as a result of President Lincoln’s Civil War victory.

Hitler’s Germany. Whereas prejudice is an unjustified attitude toward a group, discrimination is the actions and behaviors directed toward a group, particularly on the basis of sex, race, social class, and so on. All Jews in newly acquired Polish territories were required to wear badges by the end of 1939. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, they applied this requirement to newly conquered lands once more. Throughout the rest of 1941 and 1942, Germany, its satellite states, and western-occupied territories imposed laws requiring Jews to wear identification badges. The Germans were only able to impose such a regulation in Denmark, where King Christian X is said to have threatened to wear the badge himself if it was imposed on his country’s Jewish population.” Arsenault (2013).

The actions based on attitudes distinguish prejudice from discrimination. A prejudiced person may not act on their attitudes, so they can be prejudiced but not discriminate. Many people in my community are prejudiced against minorities, but they do not take action against them and instead coexist in relative peace with them, implying that they do not discriminate against these people.

Social assemblages. People define themselves in terms of social groups and are quick to condemn those who do not meet their standards. Those who fit our characteristics are our “ingroup,” and those who do not are our “outgroup.” Groupings are determined by factors based on who we are (age, gender, ethnicity, religion), but they often arrive arbitrarily. Jane Elliot, a third-grade teacher, conducted an important experiment on ingroup-outgroup bias in 1968. Elliot divided her class into groups based on eye color, and the kids demonstrated how easily swayed they were. The blue-eyed children took superiority and mocked the brown-eyed children, calling them “stupid.” Think about how these 7-year-old children became hatemongers in such a short period of time; imagine how they will be when they are older.

I try to avoid prejudice and discrimination on purpose, but humans are socialized to be this way. I am aware that I believe in some stereotypes, but I do not act on my feelings toward anyone. I am not prejudiced against race, sexual orientation, religion, or sexual identity, but I am prejudiced against teenagers. I think it’s because of the arrogance and rudeness I’ve witnessed from many of them, but I still have some. There will always be those who judge on the basis of social status, race, religion, gender, and so on, but I will not conform to their ideology. In the grand scheme of things, I believe everyone is the same.

Categorization. “Our prejudices and stereotypes are formed not only by the way we receive and process information but also by our environment. The norms in our environment, competition between groups, and social inequalities all play a role in the societal origins of prejudice. All human cultures are likely to have stereotypes because categorizing occurs naturally and is a useful tool in many ways. Outgroup homogeneity bias blinds us to the uniqueness among individuals within the outgroup, while ingroup favoritism leads to unequal treatment of those we have labeled as members of the outgroup. Our perceptions of the characteristics of those outgroups are heavily influenced by the culture in which we live.” (2013) (Feenstra).

Norms are the beliefs or actions of a group. We learn which stereotypes we believe from our peers. Competition is central to realistic group conflict theory, which holds that conflicts between groups over scarce resources or competing goals can breed hostility and prejudice. Economic interests, political advantage, and threats to a group’s status drive competition.

In order to keep lower-status groups in their place, social inequalities have been maintained by clinging to myths and attitudes. Jane Elliot’s classroom experiment exemplifies social inequality. It also describes ingroup favoritism, which is the practice of favoring members of one’s ingroup over members of one’s outgroup. I believe that ingroup favoritism is at the root of our society’s and even my community’s prejudice.

Many influences that promote stereotyping have been discussed in previous sections of this paper. Putting our differences aside would go a long way toward reducing prejudice and discrimination, but it will not be enough to rid society of its hatred. We could reduce prejudice if we worked on common goals and intergroup cooperation, and if more people worked on teaching others to love equally, we could reduce discrimination and prejudice.

Throughout history, prejudice and discrimination have killed several different groups of people. This paper discusses why prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping exist and what can be done to eliminate them. Though the movement to eliminate discrimination and prejudice is strong, someone or some group will always want to spread hatred. It’s a never-ending cycle.


Gould, Katie (2016) A History of Discrimination and Its Consequences Arsenault, Joshua (2013) Holocaust Badges

Feenstra, J. (2013). Social psychology (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc


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Choose a country other than where you currently reside and examine its history of identity group interactions and the current challenges that have emerged from this history. Consider the impacts of colonialism, modernization, economic competition, labor demands, language, religion, ideology, and governmental policies. Understanding history informs understanding how identity challenges are addressed in other parts of the world. Choose one of the following identity groups from the list below. You will analyze socio-psychological and sociological theories of prejudice that influence identity group issues and you will have an opportunity to propose new strategies for improving identity group relations in a global society. Consider the impacts of colonialism, modernization, economic competition, labor demands, language, religion, ideology, and governmental policies. Understanding history informs understanding how identity challenges are addressed in other parts of the world.

Impacts of Prejudice, Stereotypes, and Discrimination in the Context of Social Psychology

Impacts of Prejudice, Stereotypes, and Discrimination in the Context of Social Psychology

Note: In the Week 3 and Week 4 Discussions, you are required to choose different identity groups to analyze. (In Week 3, use a group within the United States. In Week 4, use the same group in a country other than the United States).

For your Course Project, you must use one of the groups you chose in either Week 3 or Week 4 to be the focus of your analysis.

  • Native Americans
  • African Americans

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