Evolutionary-Psychological Perspective of Racism

Prejudice and racism are used interchangeably, but have totally independent meanings. Prejudice was the preconceived idea that is grounded on observations of facts or experience. Cultural racism was defined as the belief of the superiority of Europeans. Racism has been explained through evolution by Darwin, biologically, and culturally. Humans have lived in exclusive groups and inadvertently promoted racialized approaches. From a cultural-psychological perspective, racism is shaped by our culture, and our culture is formed by racism. From this perspective adopting these behaviors deflected any attempts at intervention.

Evolutionary psychology claimed that the reasoning behind the notion that certain traits survival was because those genes were elected by evolution. This perspective suggested that racism was established, because it was favorable for our ancestors to deny other races. Darwinism stated that evolutionary progression transpires because of the destruction of the feeble in “survival of the fittest”. Racial classification started about the 1500’s, and these ideas about race was employed, so veritable injustices was justified.


Racism has occurred throughout our culture. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, racism is the “belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race” (Racism, 2003). It is the belief that one race or group is more superior than the others. This hatred is based on differences between skin color, language, or colors. This has been a pervasive and persistently complex social problem. Racism is not just feelings or a reaction, nor is it totally derived from prejudice.

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One study suggested “Racism is often defined as individual prejudice, but racism is also systemic, existing in the advantages and disadvantages imprinted in cultural artifacts, ideological discourse, and institutional realities that work together with individual biases” ( Salter et al., 2018). Racism affected every different type, class, and groups of individuals. In this paper I discussed the different sociological aspects of racism, and the evolutionary theoretical perspective of this ideology. This paper prevent the points that need to be settled, in order to suppress racism in the future.

Ancient History to Today

Since the 1930’s in social psychology it has been a prominent subject when discussing the issue of racism. Individuals claimed racism is biological or evolutionary. Researchers noticed that racism is immerse in everyday living. To this day we still perpetuate racialized environments through our selection and proclivities. We reside in cultural places that encourages these behaviors (Banton, 2018). We can see racism intertwined and connected in our everyday living. In the19th century racism was a religious argument, grounded in the written works the Bible. From 1850 to 1950 it became a biological dispute, that was established in natural science. The historical disputes was based on the idea of that racism is inherent in our history. Studies discovered that now that White Americans make up less than 50% of the population, ethnic diversity and racism increases. Researchers suggested that change of the population going from majority to minority was responsible for some beliefs. One article declared “we offer a framework for understanding and predicting the effects of anticipated increases in racial diversity that highlights the competing influences of intergroup concerns, such as relative group status and power, and more interpersonal experiences, such as positive contact, on intergroup relations (Craig et al., 2018).

Evolutionary Science

Evolutionary scientists outright disagreed with the race being determined by phenotypes. An American scientist hypothesized that populations are distinct amongst each others by the alleles in the blood. An anthropologist, C. Loring Brace, concluded the certainty that phenotypic-found illustrations of the races disregard significant traits, because they don’t tie in highly. Another researcher employed the anatomization of skulls, to sunder the ethic groups. Samuel Morton took this theory to furnished confirmation on his claim, that interracial intellectual disparities are shown by the internal capacity of one’s skull. Colonialism and slavery were justified by the belief in “scientific racism’. Galton, founder of Eugenics, tried to engage the masses in the ideology that there racial groups with desirable traits, are more superior than the groups with lesser traits. Galton was a huge supporter of Darwin’s work, and the theory of evolution. He created the argument of natured versus nurtured, because of the discord between the two. One feminist scientist who translated Darwin’s worked stated “Superior races are destined to supplant inferior ones. One needs to think carefully before claiming political and civic equality among people composed of an Indo-European minority and a Mongolian or Negro majority” (Darwin, 1862).

Natured Versus Nurtured

Racism is described as a systematic issue that is ingrained into our history. This ideology exists in our culture, history, artifacts and “ institutional realities that work together with individual biases” (Salter et al., 2018). Researchers have tried to describe racism from an evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary psychology portrayed this ideology from a scientific reasoning for superiority of certain groups of people (Moule, 2009). Individuals aren’t born with the ideology of racism, they are taught these notions of bigotry. Some suggested that individuals learn these attitudes and beliefs starting in childhood. “Theory and research in cultural psychology highlight the need to examine racism not only “in the head” but also “in the world.” (Salter et al., 2018). Scientists have debated if racism is culturally perpetuated, biological, or from other theories. What everyone agreed on was the ramifications of racism, and detrimental effects. One study stated “This version of race is defined by social and historical forces and is used to create and justify many of the divisions that exist among people of varying religious, ethnic, or geographic backgrounds” (Anderson et al., 2004).

Through an evolutionary perspective scientists suggested that tribes interacted with each other frequently through marriage alliances and to switch tribes. Supposedly, there was no record of hostility based on race. Anthropologists suggested “both social and spatial boundaries among hunter-gatherers are extremely flexible with regard to membership and geographic extent” (Burch & Elliana, 1994). Some psychologists claimed that the possibility of how you think about race, is not you, it’s the culture around you. Studies have suggested that people believe that Blacks are more prone to be violent, old people have a tendency of being forgetful, and women are emotional (Nauert, 2016). These behaviors towards women, the elderly, and Black Americans was the result of racist beliefs, ideology, and culture. Scientists were led to believe that racism is a learned ideology, after being repeatedly exposed to these types of ideas daily. During the 1930’s until 1950’s, racism was considered a expected behavior. The Civil Rights Movement emerged protesting the injustices of racism. The racist practice now had a new theory, and the main obstacle was culture. Some believed that the issue of inequality will diminish over time. The practice of racism continued under the guidance of this new theory, which actually denied the relevance of race.

Darwin classified individuals based on skin, eye or hair color. He believed that evolution was progressive notion, and that the white races were more evolutionarily ahead than the others (Rose, 2009). This advantage constructed the contrasts between hierarchy and social classes, and allowed the justification of this ideology. Recent findings from a study supported the established evolutionary theory, and led to the explanation of racism in humanity. The study claimed “As a consequence, evolutionary theory predicts that organisms will often discriminate, because helping similar partners and harming dissimilar ones increase the fraction of the discriminating party’s genes in future generations” (Krupp & Taylor, 2015). Some individuals utilized Darwin’s theory of evolution as validation for Eugenics. One scientist divided up groups and declared that non-white people was a result of degeneration, and the thought that white was beautiful. Social psychologists have expressed how the current way of thinking has become complicated, and inconsistent. This perspective has manufactured the notion of racial supremacy, and bolster consistent inequalities.

Mueller suggest that ignorance is a valid excuse for the wealthy class (Mueller, 2018).There are various solutions to start fixing the ideologies of prejudice and racism. We must start with education, because we need to try to counteract the disinformation that is being told about certain races. For instance, most white Americans think that the black community is violent. Education, intervention, and being held accountable for these injustices against humanity will help in stopping racism. Consequences and legislation would help in eradicating these notions that any one group is more superior than others. Social and cultural market needs to be made to prevent racism.


In conclusion, even though evolution was claimed a elucidative science, it does not measure morality. Individuals will still use Darwin’s work, Galton’s Eugenics and flawed genetics to scientifically support their ideology. The Genome Project and other studies has proven that race is non-existent, but slavery, the Holocaust, and The Civil Rights Movement provided evidence that racism does. The history of racism in the world can be difficult waters to waters to wade through. Finally, racism is not innate from evolutionary psychological perspective. Dr. Krupp created a new model that suggest through a biological framework using inclusive fitness theory, describing our behaviors is dependent on the successful procreation of our community, and ourselves (Krupp & Taylor, 2015). We need to prevent racism by coming together socially and culturally, and have the uncomfortable conversations. The world is changing, but people’s ideology has stalled. It is necessary to reteach the misinformation that been perpetuated by history, science, and society.


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  2. Banton, M. (2018). The concept of racism. In Race and racialism (pp. 17-34). Routledge.
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  4. Craig, M. A., Rucker, J. M., & Richeson, J. A. (2018). The pitfalls and promise of increasing racial diversity: Threat, contact, and race relations in the 21st century. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(3), 188-193.
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  7. Moule, J. (2009). Understanding unconscious bias and unintentional racism. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(5), 320-326.
  8. Mueller, J. C. (2018). Advancing a sociology of ignorance in the study of racism and racial non‐knowing. Sociology Compass, e12600.
  9. Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Cultural Bias for Racism. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/10/03/cultural-bias-for-racism/29997.html
  10. Racism. (2003). In Merriam-Webster’s dictionary (11th ed.). Springfield, MA:
  11. Rose, S. (2009). Darwin, race and gender. EMBO reports, 10(4), 297-298.
  12. Salter, P. S., Adams, G., & Perez, M. J. (2018). Racism in the structure of everyday worlds: A cultural-psychological perspective. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(3), 150-155.

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Evolutionary-Psychological Perspective of Racism. (2021, Apr 23). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/evolutionary-psychological-perspective-of-racism-essay

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