The concept of Prejudice

Essay by glengem June 2004

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Prejudice can be defined in one of several ways. There is an intellectual as well as a behavioral aspect to the concept of prejudice. Prejudice encompasses negative thoughts and feelings that a person has toward another person. Thoughts and feelings linked to prejudice are generally not based upon the experience the individual, but rather the prevailing thoughts and attitudes of the society within which the individual has been socialized. These thoughts and feelings may also have an impact on the physical space and social interaction patterns preferred by that person. When defining and conceptualizing prejudice it is important to acknowledge the fact that prejudicial thoughts and reactions are the result of "hasty and faulty decision-making" (McGregor, 1993).


Measurement of prejudice can be obtained by observing behavior in the following dimensions: exclusion and invisibility, stereotyping, imbalance and selectivity, unreality, and fragmentation and isolation (T&D, 2001). Exclusion of particular groups of people can be evidenced by employment rates for particular groups in society in the more prestigious and well-paying professions, as well as through membership rates in social and academic organizations.

Analysis can also be carried out by surveying textbooks and accounts of history to determine if there is a lack of contributions included from certain groups of people.

Analysis of a sample of newspapers, magazines, and television shows and commercial ads, could be examined to note any unequal representation based upon race and/or ethnicity. Along similar lines these same samples could be examined to detect inaccurate or stereotypical images portrayed about groups of individuals based upon their race and/or ethnicity. This would also be evidence of physical and psychological fragmentation and isolation.

The final dimensions of stereotyping and unreality could be observed through survey data. A telephone survey method could be conducted by selecting a random sampling of people from...