MCAT Content / Discrimination / The Relationship Between Prejudice And Discrimination

The Relationship Between Prejudice and Discrimination

Topic: Discrimination

Prejudice, a negative attitude and feeling toward an individual based solely on one’s membership in a particular social group, can escalate to discrimination, the unfair treatment of an individual based on his or her membership in a certain group.

Prejudice is a negative attitude and feeling toward an individual based solely on one’s membership in a particular social group (Allport, 1954; Brown, 2010). Prejudice is common against people who are members of an unfamiliar cultural group. Prejudice often begins in the form of a stereotype which is a specific belief or assumption about individuals based solely on their membership in a group. An example of prejudice is having a negative attitude toward people who are not born in the United States. Although people holding this prejudiced attitude do not know all people who were not born in the United States, they dislike them due to their status as foreigners.

Prejudice often begins in the form of a stereotype—that is, a negative belief about individuals based solely on their membership in a group, regardless of their individual characteristics. Stereotypes become overgeneralized and applied to all members of a group. This negative belief is overgeneralized to all members of the group despite a number of high profile examples to the contrary. Whether or not you agree with a stereotype, stereotypes are generally well-known within a given culture (Devine, 1989).

Sometimes people will act on their prejudiced attitudes toward a group of people, and this behavior is known as discrimination. Discrimination is a negative action toward an individual as a result of one’s membership in a particular group (Allport, 1954; Dovidio & Gaertner, 2004). As a result of holding negative beliefs (stereotypes) and negative attitudes (prejudice) about a particular group, people often treat the target of prejudice poorly, such as excluding older adults from their circle of friends.

Connecting Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination


Practice Questions

 

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Key Points

• Prejudice is a negative attitude and feeling toward an individual based solely on one’s membership in a particular social group and is formed from stereotypes which is an assumption about individuals based solely on their membership in a group.

• Prejudice often begins in the form of a stereotype—that is, a negative belief about individuals based solely on their membership in a group, regardless of their individual characteristics.

• Discrimination evolves from prejudice where thoughts turn into actions. Discrimination is the differential treatment of an individual or group based on prejudicial thoughts.


Key Terms

Discrimination: The prejudicial treatment of an individual based on his or her membership, or perceived membership, in a certain group or category.

Stereotype: A conventional opinion, or image of a group of people or things based on second-hand information.

Prejudice: A positive or negative evaluation of another person based on their perceived group membership (e.g., race, class, or gender).



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