Essay by cadtechUniversity, Bachelor's July 2004

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Over the years, there have been many attempts to understand and explain why people tend to think and feel negatively toward other groups, in essence, are prejudice. In the textbook Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class the Sociology of Group Conflict and Change Joseph Healey outlines some of the more widely accepted theories. Healey breaks these theories into two distinctive groups: Personality based approach to prejudice and Cultural based approach to prejudice.

One thought in the personality-based approach to prejudice is projection. Projection is when a person "sees in others characteristics or feelings that he can't admit that he has himself." Some people are unable to deal with strong emotions and tend to project them onto others. Another hypothesis in personality-based prejudice is the "Scapegoat hypothesis." This hypothesizes that prejudice is associated with an individual's need to deal with frustration and express aggression. It also states that failure, no matter what size, is common for every individual.

When a person fails, there is a certain amount of frustration. One way that frustration can manifest itself is by an individual becoming aggressive and hostile. Usually that person cannot be hostile against the person or thing that has frustrated them, so they displace the frustration in the form of hostility and aggression onto a weaker target that is unable to respond the aggression, or scapegoat. By definition, minority groups are weaker, inferior, and typically do not retaliate against the dominant group. Therefore minority groups can take on the role of the scapegoat. The Authoritarian personality is another example of personality-based prejudice. T.W. Adorno believes that Authoritarian Personality Syndrome (APS) is something that is developed in early childhood relationships of children and their parents. APS typically occurs when a child is harshly disciplined, parents are uncommunicative and emotionally cold. It is thought that these...