Essay, Research Paper: Racism`s Nature

Psychology

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In our textbook, prejudice is defined as: " a form of thinking whereby an
individual forms an unfavorable attitude directed towards groups of people,
based on insufficient or incorrect evidence about these groups". Prejudice
has been a part of society for as long as society has been. There are many
different theories on the reasons for why people form prejudices. The theory of
social categorization states that it is human nature to put people into
categories based on certain characteristics. Which is also how we form
stereotypes. Stereotypes give us a preconceived notion of how people of a
certain group are going to act before we have experienced it firsthand.
Basically, stereotypes are generalizations. They may apply to some members of a
particular group but definitely not everyone. Another theory, illusory
correlation, states that we tend to notice unusual behavior that occurs in
minority groups rather than the same behavior that would occur in a majority
group. The theory that I find most interesting is the social-identity theory,
which states that people are prejudice in order to increase there self-esteem by
believing that other groups are inferior to them. After reading about all the
different reasons for prejudice, I believe that it is a combination of all the
theories mentioned above. I also strongly believe that the way a person is
brought up strongly ties into their beliefs. If a child is brought up listening
to his/hers parents talking negatively about a certain group of people it often
leads to the child having the same beliefs as their parents. Another possible
cause is if someone has a bad or traumatizing experience. For instance, if
someone is robbed by a person of a different race they may than believe that
everyone of that race is a thief and therefore they form a prejudice against
that group of people. Experience is an important factor in why some people
become prejudice or not. Imagine you have grown up on a farm in Idaho your
entire life. You have never seen or met an African American person first hand,
but your whole life you have been told that they are terrible people who deal
drugs and murder innocent people. Although they have never experienced them
firsthand, automatically this person will have a negative outlook on that group
of people. The point I am trying to make is that your different experiences and
what you have been taught plays a big role in the prejudices that you will form.
Usually if you are immersed by all different kinds of people and have known
people from all different cultures, you will tend to have a more open mind.
Ignorance is the biggest reason for why we form prejudices in the first place.
If we think back to the fifties and sixties, the amount of prejudice and racial
discrimination has been reduced dramatically. However, as much as society tries
to stress the importance of equality there is still a great amount of
discrimination still going on in the world. So, how can we reduce prejudice
effectively? I believe that a major part in this process is educating people
from young ages about prejudice and how they need to be open to all types of
people. Schools need to be culturally diversified so that child can experience
other types of people firsthand. I know that isn't as easy as it sounds,
especially when we put into perspective financial situations and where schools
are located, but I think it is important that from a young age that people
experience all types of cultures. Another way to educate people is by stressing
that people are all different, whether it is from the way they dress or they way
that they talk. Instead of looking down at other people's differences we need to
be taught to celebrate them. In conclusion, I believe that prejudice is
something that still plagues our society. I feel that it has definitely has
improved over time and if things keep progressing, prejudice could possibly
cease to exist in the future. As long as we keep educating our children and
society, I think we are heading towards the right track.
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