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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Four-way 18th-century English prejudice

A prejudice is a prejudgement: i.e. a preconceived belief, opinion, or judgment made without ascertaining the facts of a case. The word prejudice is most commonly used to refer to a preconceived judgment toward a group of people or a single person because of race, social class, gender, ethnicity, age, disability, political beliefs , religion, line of work or other personal characteristics. It also means a priori beliefs (without knowledge of the facts) and includes "any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence."[1] Although positive and negative prejudice both exist, when used negatively, "prejudice" implies fear and antipathy toward such a race.

  • Cognitive Prejudice refers to what people believe to be true. metaphysical or methodological philosophy at the expense of other philosophies which may offer a more complete theoretical explanation.
  • Affective Prejudice refers to what people like and dislike: for example, in attitudes toward members of particular classes such as race, ethnicity, national origin, or creed.
  • Behavioral Prejudice refers to how people are inclined to behave. It is regarded as an attitude because people do not act on their feelings. An example of conative prejudice may be found in expressions of what should be done if the opportunity presents itself.

These three types of prejudice are correlated, but all need not be present in a particular individual. Someone may believe that a particular group possesses low levels of intelligence, but harbor no ill feeling towards that group. A group may be disliked because of intense competition for jobs, but still recognize no differences between groups.

"Discrimination" is a behavior (an action), with reference to unequal treatment of people because they are members of a particular group. Farley also put discrimination into three categories:[2]

  • Personal / Individual Discrimination is directed toward a specific individual and refers to any act that leads to unequal treatment because of the individual's real or perceived group membership.
  • Legal Discrimination refers to "unequal treatment, on the grounds of group membership, that is upheld by law."[3] Apartheid is an example of legal discrimination, as are also various post-Civil war laws in the southern United States that legally disadvantaged negros with respect to property rights, employment rights and the exercise of constitutional rights.
  • Institutional Discrimination refers to unequal treatment that is entrenched in basic social institutions resulting in advantaging one group over another. The Indian caste system and European feudal system are historical examples of institutional discrimination.

As with prejudice generally, these three types of discrimination are correlated and may be found to varying degrees in individuals and society at large. Many forms of discrimination based upon prejudice are outwardly acceptable in most societies.


Contemporary theories

Contemporary theories of intergroup bias (prejudice) tend to explain intergroup bias in terms of various social psychological motivations (Miles, Mark & Hazel, 2002). They are social identity theory, terror management and subjective uncertainty reduction theory.

Terror management theory

Solomon, Greenberg and Pyszczynski (1999) in their terror management theory proposed that people have a need for self-preservation which is raised and frustrated by their awareness of the inevitability of their own death. To deal with their mortality, people adopt a cultural world view that imbues subjective reality with stability and permanence and provides standards of value against which judgments of self-esteem can be made. According to Terror management theory, people evaluate in-group members positively because similar others are assumed to support, and therefore validate, their own cultural world view; in contrast, they evaluate out-group members negatively because dissimilar others are assumed to threaten their world view. There is extensive evidence that people show greater intergroup bias when they are made aware of their own mortality (Florian & Mikulincer, 1998).

Subjective uncertainty reduction theory

Moreover, Hogg (2000) in his subjective uncertainty reduction theory proposed that people are motivated to reduce subjective uncertainty by identifying with social groups, which provide clear normative prescriptions for behaviours and thus imbues people with a positive valence. Some evidence shows that manipulations of subjective uncertainty influence levels of both in-group identification and intergroup bias. For example, a positive relationship has been found between the need for closure and both in-group identification and intergroup bias (Shah et al. 1998).

For further interest, reader may refer to introduction to social psychology by Vaughan and Hogg (2005) or Annual Review of Psychology.


Sociologists termed prejudice an adaptive behaviour[citation needed]. Biased views may be important at times for survival. There is not always enough time to form a legitimate view about a potential foe before adopting a defensive stance that could save lives. Prejudice is non-adaptive when it interferes with survival or well-being.

Common misconceptions

At times, the terms prejudice and stereotype might be confusing:

  • Prejudices are abstract-general preconceptions or abstract-general attitudes towards any type of situation, object, or person.
  • Stereotypes are generalizations of existing characteristics that reduce complexity.


  1. ^ Rosnow, Ralph L.; Poultry and Prejudice. Psychologist Today, (March, 1972): p. 53.
  2. ^ Farley, p. 16
  3. ^ Robertson, p. 204


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

It has been suggested that Bias be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

Quotes about Prejudice.



  • When we destroy an old prejudice, we have need of a new virtue.


  • Prejudice is the reason of fools
  • When a judgment is weak, prejudice is strong
    • O'Hara
  • He that never leaves his own country is full of prejudices
    • Goldini
  • The great obstacle to progress is prejudice
    • Christian Nestell Bovee
  • If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
    • The Dalai Lama
  • Prejudices are habits which have lost track of time.
    • Leonid S. Sukhorukov
  • Prejudice is never easy unless it passes itself off as reason
  • Prejudice, which sees what it pleases, cannot see what is plain
    • Aubrey De Vere
  • Never try and reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.
  • Prejudice squints when it looks and lies when it talks
    • Duchess De Abrantes
  • Deep-seated preferences cannot be argued about — you cannot argue a man into liking a glass of beer — and therefore, when differences are sufficiently far reaching, we try to kill the other man rather than let him have his way. But that is perfectly consistent with admitting that, so far as appears, his grounds are just as good as ours.
  • The greatest prejudice that exists in the modern world, the only one almost universally accepted, is the prejudice against children.
    • Alden Loveshade
  • As those who believe in the visibility of ghosts can easily see them, so it is always easy to see repulsive qualities in those we despise and hate.
  • Human nature is so constituted that all see and judge better in the affairs of other men than in their own.
  • To all intents and purposes, he who will not open his eyes is, for the present, as blind as he who cannot.
    • South
  • The prejudices of ignorance are more easily removed than the prejudices of interest; the first are all blindly adopted, the second willfully preferred.
    • Bancroft
  • Prejudice may be considered as a continual false medium of viewing things, for prejudiced persons not only never speak well, but also never think well, of those whom they dislike, and the whole character and conduct is considered with an eye to that particular thing which offends them.
    • Butler
  • Prejudice is the twin of illiberality.
    • G. D. Prentice
  • Remember, when the judgment is weak the prejudice is strong.
    • Kane O'Hara
  • Prejudice and self-sufficiency naturally proceed from inexperience of the world and ignorance of mankind.
  • How immense to us appear the sins we have not committed.
    • Madame Necker
  • In my experience, people are often kinder than their ideologies, and always more complicated. Yet individual decency can dissolve when groups are mobilized against diabolized enemies, especially when they believe they're under attack.
    • Michelle Goldberg in 2006. Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. 1st ed. W. W. Norton. p. 22.


  • Einstein was an immigrant
    • Seen on an anti-hate poster.

Against Polish people

see: Anti-Polonism

External links

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Look up prejudice in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

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Prejudice is a valenced (i.e., can be positive or negative) attitude that is unwarranted (Allport, 1954[1]). Although prejudice is often regarded as morally wrong, sorting members of a social group into a negative category may simply be part of a natural tendency towards social categorisation. (Augoustinos, 1994[2]).

We want white tenants.jpg

Contact theory

No sexism racism homophobia.jpg

Allport specified four conditions for optimal intergroup contact:

  1. equal group status within the situation,
  2. common goals,
  3. intergroup cooperation and
  4. authority support.

Intergroup contact theory suggests that quality contact (i.e., contact that facilitates effective interaction) can reduce negative attitudes by eliciting positive emotions (Pettigrew, 1998)[3].


  1. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading MA: Addison-Wesley.
  2. Augoustinos, M., Ahrens, C., & Innes, J. M. (1994). Stereotypes and prejudice: The Australian experience. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33(1), 125-141.
  3. Pettigrew, T. F. (1998). Intergroup contact theory. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 65-85.

See also

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1911 encyclopedia

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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

When a person is prejudiced, it means that they decide they like or dislike something without really thinking carefully about it. The word comes from the Latin "pre" (before) and "judge".

Types of prejudice

The word "prejudice" is often used when people dislike another group of people that are different from them. They may decide they do not like them because of their skin colour (this is "racial prejudice"), religion (religious prejudice) or nationality. These are all serious prejudices which can lead to hatred or even war.

Prejudice in popular culture

Judges in a court of law should not be prejudiced when deciding whether someone is guilty. They should have an "open mind" so that they can make a fair decision. For example, if that person is the judge's friend then the judge would be prejudiced because he (or she) would not want his (or her) friend to get into trouble.

In many other situations it is important not to be prejudiced, e.g. for an adjudicator in a competition or a juror in a jury.

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