Prejudice Formation



Prejudicerefers to premeditated and assumed feelings toward group members.Major characteristics associated with prejudice include stereotypingbeliefs, negative attitude, and stereotyping beliefs against somegroup members. The feelings can be either positive or negative.Individuals and groups develop the attitude if they feel that anothergroup can be a threat. Various stereotypes cause distinct emotionalresponses such as explicit hostility or offensive attitudes. Themedia images, people’s emotional response, behavior, and languagecan also portray a person’s prejudice as well.

Understandingthe concepts of prejudice is significant because it defines theinterrelationship of various persons. In addition, prejudice explainsthe underlying reasons that make people conduct themselves in a givenway. For example, it determines whether people enact laws andregulations that treat every person in the group equally. Besides, itcan help people in identifying irregularities in their convictions.Brown (2010) asserts that psychologists have investigated andidentified techniques for reducing or eliminating prejudice. Forexample, a person can overcome prejudice through imagining him orherself in the shoes another individual. Empathy helps people to viewproblems of another person from the perspective a victim. Educatingthe public concerning prejudice is crucial because it can help themto prevent recurrence of traumatic chronological events like theHolocaust and World War II. During the Holocaust, the Nazis passedprejudiced anti-Semitic regulations that targeted the Jews. On theother hand, the World War II was the deadliest and bloodiest in theworld history. Over 38 million from more than fifty statesparticipating in the war lost their lives. Prejudiced militaryleaders intended to conquer and rule the world started the gruelingwar that lasted for six years. For example, Mussolini, the Italianleader, claimed that he was waging war so that he could allegedlyhelp in bringing civilization in Africa and some Asian states (Ajzen&amp Fishbein, 1977).


GordonAllport’s theoryof traits claims that the prejudice is a form of severe stereotypingattitude. The emotional constituent of the theory includes eitherliking or disliking while behavioral component is characterized bydifferent biased actions. Allport’s theory claims that theprejudicial behavior develops in five stages. The first phase iscalled anti-locution, and it is characterized by mean jokes, verbalputdowns, and malicious gossip. The second stage involves avoidance,whereby an individual refrains from interacting with people orengaging a given activity. The third stage is characterized bydiscrimination that excludes the object of bias from given rights. Bythe fourth stage, a prejudiced individual can engage victims in aphysical attack such as an assault. The fifth- and last stage isextermination (Bertocci, 1940). The piled up hatred or dislike of thebiased object pushes a victim in getting rid of it.

Gardner(1950) study investigatedFreud’s Scapegoat Theory ofPrejudice. According to Freud, people can be biased towards a givengroup as a way of expelling their frustrations. The victims associateall their problems to a group or individuals they detest. People usescapegoats to justifying their failures while maintaining theirpersonal image, through accusing given groups as the reasons fortheir problems. The study observed the behavioral tendencies ofminority and majority ethnic groups towards a frustrating situation.The research concluded that the aggression made both the majority andminority races react aggressively towards non-instigating objects.However, the minority group had significantly higher probability ofdirecting outward aggression towards non-instigating causes than themajority (Gardner, 1950).

Posey(2013) study concluded that overweight persons are subject toprejudice. However, the study does not give evidence whetherprejudice exists concerning the different women body shapes thatinclude Hourglass, Apple, Pear, and Banana. The study concluded thatpeople develop prejudice on the body shape depending on the hip towaist ratio (Posey, 2013).

Billing(2002) is an analysis of Tajfel’sSocial Identity Theory.Tajfel asserted that every human being endeavors to attain a perfectsocial and self-image, thereby resulting into in-group and out-groupcategorizations. Since social identity is a necessity, people withsimilar characteristics and ideologies often form a group whileothers with different ideologies are classified into another. Theresearcher placed 15-year-old boys into groups, and then separatedthem by placing each one in an independent cubicle. Everyone wassupposed to give points to other boys depending on his or herphysical attraction irrespective of his or her group membership. Theresulting trend showed that the boys gave priority to the members oftheir groups first, thus supporting the hypothesis that groupingpromotes prejudice (Billing, 2002).

Kornyeyeva&amp Boehnke (2013) research is based on is based on Adorno’shypothesis that authoritarian personalities arevulnerable to prejudice. The individuals practice authoritativebehaviors when they are in the company inferior persons to them. Onthe contrary, they become authoritative when they are dealing withindividuals inferior to them. Adorno claimed that many people withauthoritative personally are often raised in a harsh environment. Inthe research, Kornyeyeva and Boehnke associate incapability ofdeveloping self-acceptance. The data used in the analysis wasself-reported evaluation from individuals drawn from equalsub-samples of workers from different ethnic and national background.The respondents included native Germans, Turks, Russians, and Westernexpatriates’ young adults working in Germany. The individuals weresupposed to report the strictness of their parents and theirperceived strictness level. The study concluded that Ex-Soviet andTurkish sub-samples were more vulnerable to authoritarian personalityprejudice. The research associated the tendency to the fact therespondents were raised in a strict environment (Kornyeyeva &ampBoehnke, 2013).

TheFreud’s Scapegoat Theory of Prejudice and Adorno’s hypothesis onauthoritarian tendencies explain prejudice from the perspective ofpersonal image and upbringing background. Freud asserts that peopleplace their blames on prejudiced groups as a way of justifying theirimperfections without appearing at fault. On the other hand, Adorno’shypothesis claims that people are often submissive or authoritativedepending on the status of the persons they are addressing. However,the two studies do not consider the effect of religious beliefstowards shaping believers’ prejudice attitude. Many faiths call forstrict adherence to defined personal conduct for every believer. Forexample, the Islamic faith demands that a woman should be subordinateto man. The women are supposed to ask for permission from a man withauthority above them such as a father or husband (Ajzen &ampFishbein, 1977).

Plous(1997) study focuses on the effect of religion stereotyping onenhancing prejudice. The foundation of the research was anchored onthe appeal Osama Bin Laden made in 1998 to the Muslim believers. Heurged every believer to use his or her resources in killing Americancitizens, destroying their property, as well as plunder theAmerican’s money every time Muslims have an opportunity. Thisimplies that a person’s faith can influence his or her prejudicetendencies as much as the authoritarian influences and scapegoatprejudice principles work (Plous, 1997).

Futureresearch on this topic will use the hypothesis:

Howdoes religion stereotyping enhance prejudice formation?


Brown,R. (2010). Prejudice:Its social psychology.Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Gardner,L. (1950). “An experimental examination of the scapegoat theory ofprejudice,” TheJournal of Abnormal and Social Psychology.45(2): 296-309. doi: 10.1037/h0059390

Posey,M.B. (2013). “Gender Difference in Preference and Prejudice forFemale Body Shapes,” Universityof Northern Colorado Undergraduate Research Journal: McNair ScholarsEdition.3(2). 197-120.

Plous,S. (1997). “The Psychology of Prejudice, Stereotyping andDiscrimination: An Overview,” Journalof Personality and Social Psychology.7 (3). 233-255.

Billig,M. (2002), “Henri Tajfel`s ‘Cognitive aspects of prejudice’ andthe psychology of bigotry.” BritishJournal of Social Psychology,41(2):&nbsp171–188. doi:&nbsp10.1348/014466602760060165

Kornyeyeva,L. &amp Boehnke, K. (2013), “The role of self-acceptance inauthoritarian personality formation: Reintroducing a psychodynamicperspective into authoritarianism research,” PsychoanalyticPsychology.30(2): 232-246. doi: 10.1037/a0029879

Bertocci,P. A. (1940), “A critique of G. W. Allport`s theory of motivation,”PsychologicalReview.47(6): 501-532. doi: 10.1037/h0055588

Ajzen,I. &amp Fishbein, M. (1977), “Attitude-Behavior Relations: Atheoretical analysis and review of empirical research,”PsychologicalBulletin.84 (5): 888-918.