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Social Psychology: The Formation of Prejudice in Human Society

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Prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination remains of the three major problems in the world today. In an increasingly diverse society prejudice and discrimination become normalized and have synchronized into our daily lives, continue to make a difference based on race, sex, ethnicity or gender. Prejudice is regarded as a groundless and typically unconstructive attitude towards members of a group. Common attributes of prejudice mainly include negative feelings, labelled convictions in addition to a predisposition of marginalizing members of a group (Fiske, 2018). However, certain definitions of prejudice given by social scientists usually differ, many of them agree that it involves prejudgements, which are typically unconstructive about members of a certain group. The following people will argue if the formation of prejudice is inevitable in the context of human society.


Prejudice is viewed as an unjustified or inappropriate typically negative attitude towards an individual grounded only on the membership of the individual of that specific social group. For example, an individual might hold a prejudiced perspective towards a particular race for sexual category who is generally considered as a sexist. On the other hand, discrimination is considered as behaviour or actions typically negative towards an individual or group of individuals specifically based on sexual categories, ethnic background and social class (Marsden and Haag 2016). Liberman, Woodward and Kinzler (2017) have cited an example of racial discrimination, which highlight on segregation or disconnectedness, which had been recognised as a system of ethnic segregation, which had been enforced in South Africa from 1948 to 1994 where non-white people were prevented from casting their votes and lived in detached communities. While, in recent times, women often face discrimination at workplaces while men tend to face discrimination and biases in family environments.

According to Billig (1985), it is evident to identify two varied perspectives of bias in the domain of cognitive social psychology. By drawing relevance to one conception, the ways in which biased individuals think are chiefly different from the ways in which open-minded people think. Meanwhile, in contrast, there can be identified a perspective which argues with this distinction claiming that rather than viewing prejudice as a distinct pattern of thinking, it asserted that all thoughts tend to highlight on acts of bias. However, irrespective of the contradictory views amongst these two understanding of prejudice, these explanations are found in the exceptional work of Allport’s ‘The Nature of Prejudice’. Meanwhile, authors have shared similar thoughts with Allport claiming that the importance of categorisation links to the cognitive process. Furthermore, Billig (1985) by drawing relevance to previous studies evaluated that categorisation is a major value of reasoning which tends to permit humans to structure as well as offer consistency to the overall understanding of people and the social world.

Furthermore, if prejudice viewed as a general outcome of thought rather than a specific type of perception then there can be witnessed an effect of inevitability in which individuals face bigotry acts till, they pertain to think that way. Such theoretical acceptance related to bias and prejudice can be identified in the domain of social psychology. On the other hand, social dominance theory emphasizes on individual variances in whether individuals consider intergroup associations as a contest whereby it is suitable groupings in order to subjugate others. Leonardelli and Toh (2015), have shared similar thoughts and noted that constructing on the perceptions of more than a few decades, individual differences attitudes towards the idea of categorizing prejudice as well as racism all seemingly transpire from US researchers with a speciality that possibly will reduce from past distinctiveness. Hogg and Vaughan (1995) emphasise on instances of periods of radically dissimilar colonization into one country that stimulated cultural subjects to the surface more readily in the United States as compared to other nations. It included an obvious legitimate philosophy of equality whereby the American national emphasis lied on individualism, which cited accountability for prejudice on persons in addition to rights of individual independence over ethnic group distinctiveness.

According to Marsden and Haag (2016), social dominance theory with the incorporation of individual differences perspective emphasized on repeated subjects in the exploration of social prejudice, which has been seen as the extent of competition amongst groups. Such a concern has been a long-lasting theme in interpreting intergroup prejudice and predisposition. Meanwhile, in the view of Fiske (2018), theoretical understanding grounded in functional associations typically point to competition as well as resultant perceived intimidation as primary causes of intergroup prejudice and favouritism. Additionally, realistic group conflict theory established that apparent group rivalry for resources have been consequential to determinations of reducing the obtainability of additional groups to possessions.

While emphasizing on explicit and implicit bias, Leonardelli and Toh (2015) have claimed that marginalization tends to take place in a specific number of groupings in general, where acts of labelling and prejudice are regarded as intrapsychic manifestation. Such an occurrence implies to the fact that they take place within a person and are likely to vary not only in clearness towards other individuals but further in the level of gathered knowledge and ideas of the individual who activates the acts of classification and prejudice. Former research has asserted that previously labelling and fanaticism have been understood as particular responses associated with convictions, principles and approaches which people tend to think that they possess and consequently regulate these feelings in their countenance. On the contrary, to these obvious, mindful and considered events hidden act bias and stereotypes show a deficit of consideration and deliberate activation. Conversely, it has been observed integrated agreement claiming that inherent manifestations of attitudes and classification exist and constantly anticipate certain behavioural patterns, which lean towards regulating apparent behaviour patterns as well as labelling.


To conclude, while considering the explanations of the occurrence of labelling, stereotypes and prejudice, scholars have discovered diverse means to which prejudice can be concentrated or even eradicated. At this point, preparing individuals to turn into more compassionate towards associates of other groups is an effectual method that has presented a substantial accomplishment. Furthermore, by envisioning in a similar state of affairs, individuals are capable to contemplate the ways they would counter as well as increase a better understanding of other activities.


  1. Billig, M., 1985. Prejudice, categorization and particularization: From a perceptual to a rhetorical approach. European Journal of Social Psychology, 15(1), pp.79-103.
  2. Fiske, S.T., 1998. Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. The handbook of social psychology, 2(4), pp.357-411.
  3. Fiske, S.T., 2018. Social beings: Core motives in social psychology. John Wiley & Sons.
  4. Hogg, M.A. and Vaughan, G.M., 1995. Social psychology: An introduction. Harvester Wheatsheaf.
  5. Leonardelli, G.J. and Toh, S.M., 2015. Social categorization in intergroup contexts: Three kinds of self‐categorization. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 9(2), pp.69-87.
  6. Liberman, Z., Woodward, A.L. and Kinzler, K.D., 2017. The origins of social categorization. Trends in cognitive sciences, 21(7), pp.556-568.
  7. Marsden, N. and Haag, M., 2016, May. Stereotypes and politics: reflections on personas. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 4017-4031). ACM.
  8. Steele, C.M., 2011. Whistling Vivaldi: How stereotypes affect us and what we can do. WW Norton & Company.
  9., 2019. Can You Avoid Segregation?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Nov. 2019].

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