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Essays on Prejudice

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Main Ideas

Prejudice is a feeling towards a person, usually unfavorable based on that person’s political affiliation, gender, sex, beliefs, gender identity, values, social class, disability, religion, age, sexuality, race, language, nationality, beauty, complexion, ethnicity, occupation, wealth, education, etc. This term also refers to unfounded beliefs about a person based on previous experiences or beliefs.

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Origin

The first research conducted on this topic was in the 1920s. At the time, researchers attempted to prove white supremacy and ‘indicate the mental superiority of the white race’. Such studies identified prejudice as a response to races that are believed to be inferior over others.

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Cause

Even though prejudice was defined as early as the 1920s, theorists in the past viewed it as pathological and looked for personality syndromes that were linked with racism. This was very prominent in the 1930s and 1940s due to the Nazis ideology and the increasing concern about anti-Semitism. However, soon after, prejudice was viewed as categorical thinking that can occur for a number of reasons and often even unconsciously.

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Outcome

Today the world has identified many forms of prejudice and is working toward reducing it as much as possible. According to the contact hypothesis, it can only be reduced when out-group and in-group members are brought together. Studies to reduce it are conducted regularly, including the one by Thomas Pettigrew and Linda Tropp when they involved a quarter of a million participants across 38 nations to learn how intergroup contact can reduce prejudice.

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Key Quotes
  • “Do you know what we call opinion in the absence of evidence? We call it prejudice.” ― Michael Crichton, State of Fear
  • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
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Interesting Facts

Prejudice is still very present in the world today, especially in terms of race. One US study found that a job resume with white-sounding name receives 50% more callbacks than resumes with traditionally Black names. Even though Black Americans and white Americans use similar drugs at similar rates, Black Americans are 6 times more likely to get arrested for this.
The most widely known types of prejudice are ageism (believing that a person is too old or young for something), classism (based on the person’s income), racism, and homophobia (discomfort, distrust, hatred or fear toward people that are members of the LGBTQ+ community).

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