According to the famous Harvard psychologist, Gordon Allport, “Prejudice is an antipathy based on faulty and inflexible generalization. It may be felt or expressed. It may be directed toward a group of people or an individual of that group”. Today, most people use the word prejudice to refer to a negative or intimidating attitude toward another social group, usually racially defined. Whether we want to believe it or not, prejudice exists in all countries and all cultures. Of course prejudice exists.
It exists in races, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
It also exists in many other things whether we want to believe it or not. Many Americans refuse to admit that they are prejudiced, but studies have shown that many people still are. In the article, Whitton (1993) states, “there is more to prejudice than stereotypes. Specifically, prejudice seems to have three distinct roots: stereotypical beliefs, emotions and symbolic beliefs — or perceived value differences” (p. 1). As he talks to Professor Zanna throughout the article, Whitton finds that psychologists considered stereotyping to be the main reason for prejudice.
Professor Zanna and other psychologists have now begun to question the “stereotypical belief” explanation which suggests that prejudice can involve more than stereotypes. Life can be cruel, and even now prejudice exists for those who are different. There are many examples of prejudice in the world, some of which you may come about in news reports, at school, at work, or in your home. It’s unfair and sad, but prejudice exists so widely. You may have heard others saying things about whole groups such as “All Italians are … ,” or “Jews always … ,” or “Girls can’t … ,” or “Old people are … ”
Sometimes, people who say these things say them out of fear or because they just don’t know better.
If people hear prejudiced comments while growing up, it may seem hard to resist repeating them. Some people who feel unimportant or bad about themselves think they can feel better by picking on others. According to Whitton, “people who are inclined to express and act on such prejudices tend to be those with authoritarian personalities that is, they tend to be individuals who are extremely self-righteous and who at the same time may feel threatened by outgroups — new immigrants, native Canadians, non-Christians, non-Protestants, and so on” (p. 2).
Therefore, people think outgroups have to find ways of dealing with the awareness that the members of outgroups violate customs and traditions in such a way as to threaten the future. Many people have something that sets them apart from the norm. All of these people have feelings and deserve to feel accepted for who they are. Everyone has something to offer, even if it’s something unexpected, like a new idea or a new way of looking at something.
The more we learn about others, the more likely we are to realize that the myths and stereotypes we hear are unfair or incorrect. Unfortunately, prejudice still exists today and although it is hard to change the views of the older generations, Whitton believes that there are ways to stop prejudice by using ways to change today’s generation so they can teach the future. Because racial prejudice is based on fear, we need to act as though racial differences do not exist, and racial differences will cease being a part of our environment, because in reality, racial differences do not exist.
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