The Psychology of Prejudice and Racism

How do we define prejudice and racism?
As prejudice and racism have caused enormous suffering across history, it is very important to try to understand how they work. Prejudice and racism both refer to a negative view of one group of people based solely on their membership in that group. Racism is a specific form of prejudice, involving prejudicial attitudes or behavior towards members of an ethnic group. The definition of race is somewhat variable but commonly refers to an ethnic group originating on a specific continent, such as people of African, European or Asian descent.

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“What is stereotyping and how does it relate to social prejudice?
Stereotyping goes hand in hand with prejudice. The term stereotype as used in social science was first introduced by the journalist Walter Lippman in 1922. Previously the term had been used in the printing business. When we stereotype people, we attribute a series of traits to them based on the onetrait that signals their membership in a particular group. Common contemporary stereotypes are that Asians are hardworking and studious, Hispanics are macho, and that librarians are introverts. By definition, stereotypes are limiting and disregard people’s individuality. They also lend themselves to negative and derogatory assumptions. When that happens the stereotype blends into prejudice.  Read more

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