In this essay we will discuss about Prejudice. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Meaning, Definition and Characteristic of Prejudice 2. Development of Prejudice 3. Determinants or Causes 4. Some Indian Studies 5. Functions 6. Methods of Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination.
- Essay on the Meaning, Definition and Characteristic of Prejudice
- Essay on the Development of Prejudice
- Essay on the Determinants or Causes of Prejudice
- Essay on the Some Indian Studies on Prejudice
- Essay on the Functions of Prejudice
- Essay on the Methods of Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination
Essay # 1. Meaning, Definition and Characteristic of Prejudice:
Prejudice is a disease of the society persisting from age to age. Prejudice is derived from the Latin noun, Prejudium which means prejudgement. It is forming an attitude or belief in advance or passing a judgement in advance. It is a judgement before actually coming in contact with the object or stimulus on which the judgement is passed.
A prejudice may be defined as a composite of stereotypes, myths, legends in which the group lebel or symbol is used to classify, characterize or define an individual or a group considered as a totality.
In forming a prejudice, thus, one is guided by the decisions, attitudes, stereotypes and of course, prejudices of the group. It is developed either to serve the interest of the group or self interest, prejudice is a bias usually believed to be a negative attitude towards people, objects, institutions, nations and nationalities.
Some hold that prejudice is a negative attitude. But this is not correct. Prejudice refers to both positive and negative attitude towards the member of some distinct social group. On the other hand, discrimination refers to negative actions directed towards some distinct social groups or persons or institutions.
In prejudice, the experiences gained from social life are over simplified and hence lead to prejudgement. You are travelling in the train and a person of a particular community misbehaves with you. You, at once, develop a hostile attitude towards all of them. This over simplification of experience leads to misunderstanding, biases and prejudices.
Despite the warning by academicians, social reformers, social scientists and by every sane individual for that matter, against jumping to conclusions, we do this where other persons are concerned. We form judgements about them, particularly the outgroups.
Prejudices indicate unscientific, unfounded judgement and assume that they possess certain traits and take it for granted. Rather, we predict that they will act on certain ways simply because they belong to specific groups. This very tendency plays a central role in the concept of prejudice and discrimination.
Here, we judge long before we come in actual contact. The characters are painted in such a way that automatically we judge them unscientifically. Baron and Byrne (1988) have defined prejudice as a specific type of attitude where individual traits and behaviour play little role. They are liked or disliked simply because they belong to a definite and specific social group.
According to Sherif and Sherif (1969), group prejudice refers to unfavourable attitudes held by the members derived from their group’s norms that regulate treatment of the outgroup.
The child is influenced by his parents and develop prejudices because of the traditional age old prejudice of the parents running from generation to generation. Thus, prejudices lack scientific character. They are unreasonable and biased.
In the drama of real life, our in group represents for us the forces of good and they as an out group represent the forces of evil. We are the chosen, the people of glorious destiny, savers of our lives whereas they are the forces of destruction, the inferior people, the unworthy, who is who, is a matter of group membership. Prejudice is, therefore, always expressed towards the “out group” by the “ingroup.”
According to Fieldman (1985), prejudice is a positive or negative evaluation or judgement of members of a particular group which are based primarily on the fact of their membership in the group and not necessarily because of particular characteristics of individual members.
Prejudice towards female occurs not because of some individual or specific characteristics or qualities of that particular woman but because she is a female.
Fieldman holds that though prejudice is thought as usually a negative evaluation, it can also be positive. While people may dislike the members of the outgroup they may positively evaluate members of their own group called the “ingroup” only on the basis of their group membership.
Hence, prejudice is a type of bias and unscientific prejudgement and it can be both pro and anti. In both the cases the bias or judgement is not related to the qualities of a particular individual, rather it is related to a group to which the individual belongs, Allport defines prejudice as negative attitude towards human beings that are held because of their membership or of their suppressed membership of certain groups.
According to Kretch and Crutchfield, prejudice refers to some attitude or belief that serves to place the objects of the attitudes and beliefs at an advantage or disadvantage. The prejudices of people even in the same country or same race vary significantly not only in content, but also in clarity, specificity, strength, importance and verifiability.
The nature of prejudice is diverse. Prejudice may not always be involved with active aggression. In several cases, prejudice only involves the avoidance of the outgroup by the prejudiced person.
Sometimes the prejudice is also expressed towards the outgroup or minority group by withdrawing certain facilities. Because of the varied nature of prejudice the diagnosis of the problem of prejudice becomes extremely difficult and hence, treatment and reduction of the prejudice becomes much more difficult.
Prejudices are basically attitudes shared by a group as a whole and the person of the out group is considered a member of a rejected group. A prejudiced person will always ascribe reasons to his attitudes. The hostile acts of the outgroup are remembered while the friendly acts are forgotten.
Essay # 2. Development of Prejudice:
The child learns to acquire the prejudice towards other groups. Initially we find small children do not have any feeling of discrimination. Small boys and girls, children of upper class and lower class, rich and poor families, play together. But gradually they learn to discriminate.
Thus, only when children grow up they learn to treat the children of other groups as different from them. Prejudice is a product of social learning. It grows in the minds of men mostly linked to political, geographical, legal and economic issues and are of less psychological significance. The white black feeling started with a very simple economic practice.
When there is a change in social conditions, revolution arises which gives rise to prejudice. In societies, in which intergroup and intra group relationships are based on political and economic power and are not integrated or planned there necessarily arises a scale of social distance which becomes incorporated in the individual members.
The famous study conducted by Clark and Clark on Negro children of 3 to 7 years age suggest that even at the age of 3 years children are perceptually able to discriminate the white child from the black child. But they do not, at this stage, develop any preferences, hostilities or prejudices.
As they grow because of the exposure to various experiences in the society, they learn to develop prejudices and feeling of discrimination to children of outgroups. So, prejudice develops with the growth of personality.
Clark and Clark (1947) conducted the above mentioned experiment to verify the hypothesis that hostility to out groups is innate but it takes time for this hostility to develop because of the immaturity of the sensory experience. The subjects of Clark and Clark’s study were 233 negro Children of the age group of 3 to 7 years.
These children were presented with 4 dolls, two of which were brown with black hair and two were white with yellow hair. The children were instructed to give the experimenter “the doll that looked like a white child and the doll that looked like a coloured child.
Results showed that 86% of the three year old children, 93% of the 5 year old children and 100% of the 7 year old children could select the correct dolls. Most of them could discriminate between the white and Negro children.
The most interesting fact is that at this age level, they did not show any preference, prejudice or hostility. It is, thus, obvious that as children grow, they are exposed to certain experiences and training at home and society. Therefore, they learn to develop prejudices to the children of the outgroup.
Horowitz and Horowitz (1938) interviewed a few white children in a Southern Community and noted that many children said that they were punished and penalised by their parents and relatives for not dissociating themselves from the Negro children. In India, children of various castes and socioeconomic groups are taught from childhood to maintain distance from children of other groups as decided by the society and social norms.
Actual conflict between the ingroup and outgroup infinitely adds more effectively to the intensification of prejudice. Once a superior group starts a prejudice, scientists, philosophers and politicians come to justify it. Hitler created the prejudice that Germans can rule the world.
Thus, prejudice develops in the same way as attitudes and stereotypes grow in the minds of a person due to social influence. “Mama said not to play with the black children” which a 2 years old girl speaks is a bright example of how prejudice grows due to social learning and social conditioning.
Growth of prejudice mostly depends upon the family members, societies, tradition, customs, myths, legends, stories, faiths and beliefs. It further grows with the growth of social distance because of the development of attitude and prejudices. If the social distance is high, prejudice is more and vice versa.
There is always prejudice of the Americans towards the Turkians, Indians towards Americans, though not one American in a thousand knows anything about the Turki. This is because of the historical conflicts between the Mahamadians and the Christianity.
A study based on interviews with 3415 persons released from a cross section of the American Zone showed that women are significantly more biased against the Jews than men.
Small town people, uneducated people are found to be more prejudiced than those of large cities and educated people. Prejudice is found to be greater among people with low status in society. Many studies indicate high levels of racism among lower class whites who may feel that blacks will take away their jobs.
One of the basic reasons behind the development of prejudice is stereotype. The conditions and expectations assigned to members of group simply on the basis of the membership in those groups lead to prejudice.
Stereotypes are over simplification of facts which are used to add meaning to certain facts out of a complex social environment. In the process, the important differences that distinguish one person from another is lost sight of.
Today, the pressure is more on social and economic stereotypes in the development of prejudice. Smeelley and Bayton (1978) found that beliefs about social class provided more powerful stereotypes than did beliefs about race. Similarly, sex stereotypes lead to sex prejudices.
Some emphasise the role of self fulfilling prophecy to the development of prejudice. It means expectations about the possibility of further events or behaviours that act to increase the likelihood that the event or behaviour will occur.
If people assume that members of a certain group are lazy, they may act in a way that actually elicits laziness on the part of the members of that group.
Cultural factors play a very important role in the development of prejudice. Sociologists and anthropologists have emphasised the tremendous impact of socio-cultural factors in the growth and development of prejudice and discrimination.
Increasing urbanization and population complexity of the society, competition and rivalry among different ethnic groups help in the development of prejudice of one group towards the other.
When certain minority or disadvantaged groups are provided with the advantage of reservation in admission to educational institution; in jobs and in various elections to political system, the unreserved category develop prejudice towards these groups.
Social factors, such as these would ultimately increase prejudices on the part of the people who feel that they are being denied a resource that is rightfully theirs or they are being debarred from their due which is rightfully theirs.
People also develop prejudice to have self regard and conformity. Many of the beliefs and attitudes occur to satisfy the specific needs of an individual. Thus, people develop certain beliefs to define the self and to maintain the individual’s identification with the society.
The environment also contributes a lot to the development of prejudice. When poor and uneducated people remain in small, dirty, clumsy cottages, rich and educated people develop stronger prejudice towards them.
The prejudiced person lives in an environment which provides a lot of support for the development of prejudice. Through the operation of the principles of similarity and proximity, certain sociological cues develop which serve as environmental support for the development of prejudice through beliefs and attitudes.
Essay # 3. Determinants or Causes of Prejudice:
Prejudice exists in all, it is an universal phenomena and seems to persist in all societies, though, recorded history from age to age. The question now arises how so many people develop this particularly towards people belonging to specific social groups and the outgroups.
Factors contributing to the growth and development of prejudice have been extensively investigated in India as well as abroad. Studies on prejudice have been made on the sociological, cultural, psychological determinants of prejudice.
(i) Sociological Determinants:
Socio-economic status usually show a positive correlation with antisemitism. But the relationship between socio-economic status and prejudice against blacks is not significant. The most common finding is that individuals of low socio economic status are most likely to have unfavourable attitudes towards blacks.
On a follow up study-Gilbreth (1951) found that Princeton students checked many of the same traits for national groups in 1950 that Katz and Barely measured in 1932. Hartley has found the same pattern of social distance in 1946 that Bogardus had found in 1928. The findings that there were more anti Negro prejudice in the South than in the North car be explained interms of differential impact of cultural norm.
(ii) Psychological Determinants:
Prejudice has recently been defined as a function of personality traits.
From three major psychological theories of prejudice, such as frustration, aggression, authoritarian, personality and belief congruence the effect of personality variable on prejudice is obvious.
(a) The support to the frustration-aggression hypothesis of prejudice comes from the studies showing that more prejudiced individuals have greater tendency to displace hostility than unprejudiced individuals. Furthermore, this psychodynamic approach holds that prejudiced individuals are more susceptible to frustration.
The free floating hostility which cannot be expressed directly due to social restrictions is vented at an alternate target. The minority group in many cases becomes the likely scapegoat as it is probably less powerful than the original source which created frustration by blocking the satisfaction of a desire.
(b) A number of studies have also indicated the relevance of personality variables like insecurity, anxiety and intolerance of ambiguity to prejudice.
A person who feels secured about his job, position and status in the family or society takes an objective view of the situation that he comes across. But a person with feelings of insecurity tries to find out an individual upon whom he can put the blame of his insecurity. Allport (1952) and Gough (1951a, 1951b, 1951c) have reported that persons with high level of insecurity arc likely to show higher level of prejudice.
Many investigators, including Rokuch (1960), Siegat (1954), point out that more anxious individuals display higher levels of prejudice than less anxious subjects.
Intolerance of Ambiguity:
Frenkel and Brunswik (1948) found that children high in prejudice tended to be intolerant of ambiguity and dichotomous in their thinking about sex roles. Because of the ambiguity of the subject or issue, people perceive them as they are asked to perceive.
So, they develop prejudice towards such objects. Thus, the very perceptual processes create these environmental supports. Ambiguity of physical traits, behaviour traits and as a result the distorting perceptions, has substantial effect on the development of prejudice.
Rokeach (1960) attempted to explain, prejudice on the basis of individual difference in the ways of organising belief and disbelief system. Persons with high level of prejudice belief and disbelief systems are rigidly organised whereas in other individuals the systems are relatively flexible.
(iii) Psycho-Dynamic Causes:
According to Freud, man is born with aggressive and destructive tendencies and the desire for war is quite unconscious. Human beings can live together peacefully only when this innate destructiveness is turned inward.
Glover, a psycho pathologist says that unconsciously motivated sadism, machosism may indeed be the essential cause of world tension. Studies by the UNESCO on social tension have been done on a large scale to determine the causes and remedies of social tension.
The psycho dynamic approach holds that instead of looking at how prejudiced people perceive and process information, deficits in an individual’s level of psychological functioning lead to prejudice. Using Freud’s theory of psycho analysis such approaches try to identify the psychological conflicts and maladjustments that underlie a person’s overt displays of prejudice.
(a) Authoritarian Personality:
The book Authoritarian Personality suggests that prejudice is a result of a particular set of characters shared by authoritarian personality. Authoritarians displace their hostility towards weak or unconventional groups i.e. usually towards minority groups.
But, further studies also show that people who score low on the authoritarian scale may be very prejudiced. Personality factors, like rigidity, superstitionsness, intolerance, lack of liberality and dynamicity are responsible for more prejudice.
Prejudice on the whole is caused and determined by the interaction of the socio-cultural Factors with the personality traits.
The determinants of prejudice can, thus, be studied, at three levels:
(a) The social structure,
(b) The individual personality dynamics and
Baron and Byrne (1988) have put on record some specific determinants causes of prejudices.
(b) Direct Intergroup Conflict:
Prejudice is caused due to struggle and unhealthy competition over jobs, good school, housing and living facilities, high status in the society, money, social prestige, desire for power and recognition. During competition, they come to perceive each other in various negative ways.
They consider each other as enemies, they think their own group as totally right and their opponents as totally wrong. Initially which started as a simple competition gradually grows to strong prejudice. Several studies have provided evidence to this view. The study of Blake and Mouton (1979) on corporate executives and Sherifs several studies in this regard are notable.
(c) Social Categorization:
The ‘In group’ and outgroup feeling leads to social categorization which is also a cause of prejudice. People usually divide the social group in which they live into two clear categories i.e., ‘us’ and ‘.hem’.
This is done on the basis of one’s name, place of residence, school or economic status. Clearly differentiated contrasting feelings and beliefs are generally marked in the minds of the members of the ingroup towards the outgroup and vice versa.
Studies by Hemstone, Locksley, Jaspars (1982), Ortiz and Hepburn (1980). Tajfal and Turner (1979) support the above facts. The subjects in the above studies, by and large, indicated more negative attitudes towards members of outgroups and treated them in less favourable ways than members of their own ingroups.
What is an ingroup? Persons try to elevate their self esteem by becoming identified with specific social groups. These are the ‘ingroups’ for them. They perceive these groups superior and better than other competing and rival groups.
Since, all individuals in a society are subject to this, everyone is bound to develop some prejudice. Thus, prejudice arises out of the clash or conflict of social perception. Results of various studies do provide evidences that our basic tendency is to divide the social world into two camps ‘us’ and ‘them’. “We and they” play a tremendous role in the growth of different types of prejudice.
(d) Early Learning Experiences:
Prejudice grows due to social learning in the same process, like attitude and stereotypes. Children acquire negative attitudes and various prejudice towards specific groups, institutions and stimuli as they are exposed to such views by parents, teachers, playmates, friends, and relations or because they are specifically rewarded for adopting them.
The girl says “Ma, a lady has come” Ma says “do not call her lady, call her woman”.
If the girl again calls her lady she is scolded by the mother and if she obeys her mother and calls her ‘woman’ she is praised like “OK that’s fine, thank you” Undoubtedly parents, friends, peers and teachers play the paramount role in this process but nevertheless, the mass media such as Movie, TV, Newspapers, Radio etc. play quite significant role in determining one’s prejudice.
A negative attitude automatically develops towards those people shown in dirty dress, unclean dialapated cottages, growing in poverty and illiteracy, uttering faulty languages.
When, repeatedly, this is said and exposed, it is imprinted in one’s mind that these people are uncivilized, dirty and inferior. Recent studies of Liebert-Sparkin and Davidson (1982) and Bandura (1986) reveal the strong influence of mass media and T.V. on the growth of prejudice.
(e) Cognitive Sources of Prejudice:
The key process of social cognition refers to the fundamental ways in which one thinks about other persons. Among them stereotypes, illusory correlation and the illusion of outgroup homogeneity are noteworthy. For interpreting and processing social information, stereotypes function as a negative schemata and cognitive framework.
The negative earlier knowledge and belief of specific social groups strongly affect the way in which one deals with further informations. For example, Dovidio, Evans and Tyler (1986) have found that informations relevant to a particular stereotype is accepted and processed more quickly than informations not related to that stereotype. You have heard and believed a particular nation is war minded.
When you get an information supporting this belief you immediately believe and accept this and act upon it within no time. But when you get an information contrary to your already existing stereotype notion, you may not accept it, process it and act upon it.
Similarly stereotypes lead a person to pay attention to specific type of information or the input that is consistent with the existing stereotypes. Inconsistent information are even, sometimes, strongly embedded in one’s personality. Even we remember those informations and inputs which suit our purpose and are consistent with our stereotypes and forget those which do not tally with it.
Thus, a person accepts inputs that readily “fit in” to his cognitive framework and only remembers them. The rest he prefers to forget. Operation of such negative schemata has got support from the recent studies of Dovidio, Evans and Tyler (1986), Greenberg and Psyzoyaski (1985).
Illusiory correlations which appear to play some role in the growth of prejudices and stereotypes as found by Spears, Vander Plight and Eiser (1985) develop due to the basic tendency to give more attention to unusual and distinctive events. It refers to perceiving the relationship between factors or variables that actually do not exist and obviously this perception of not existent things cause prejudice.
(f) Perception of Out Group Homogeneity:
The tendency to perceive all the members of the outgroup as all very much alike and homogenous reflects a fundamental bias in the way we think about other and so prejudice is grown because of this even if there is lot of contact.
Park and Rothbart (1982) have observed that even males perceive all women having similar qualities and attitudes and females perceive all men having homogenous qualities and attitudes though, these two sex groups always come in intimate contact with each other.
These factors explain the causes and determinants of prejudice and also hint as to why prejudice inspite of all efforts persists.
(iv) Personality and Motivational Determinants:
Some psychologists have attempted to trace the causes of prejudice from motivational and personality aspects through the frustration, aggression or scapegoat theory. It is said that those people who experience continuous free floating aggression are likely to develop more prejudice.
Accumulated tensions arising out of frustration of various basic and particularly significant needs often find expression in aggressive acts. When this aggression is directed against a group as the target, it turns to prejudice.
Miller and Bugelski have demonstrated that the frustration of even relatively unimportant needs like seeing a movie in a theatre lead to racial antipathy. The history of growing up and being in an adult modern society is a history of constant and continuous frustration. Every human being is subjected to constant frustration from the moment of birth till death and birth itself is said to be the greatest frustration in human life.
When people find themselves frustrated in some way, they may turn their hostility towards a socially acceptable substitute i.e. minority group. Competition between groups and the very fact that members of another group are different, may also cause prejudice.
Most social psychologists hold the view that all the racial prejudice can be attributed to the frustration aggression sequence which reflects the motivational causes of all prejudice.
But, since, all frustrations do not lead to aggression and there are other reactions to frustration besides aggression, it is not possible to say that all people who are prejudiced suffer from frustration. Hence, besides, frustration and aggression there are also other causes of prejudice.
Racial prejudice is found among the sadists and in persons with free floating aggression. Pathological personality systems like paranoia is found to be related to prejudice.
A paranoiac has been described as person who is not capable of understanding other people and who continuously attributes all types of motives to other people. He seeks for people as a target of his aggression. But the reverse is not true. All mentally sick people may not necessarily develop prejudice.
(a) Culturally Disapproved Behaviour:
In a particular cultural and social set up, the individual is expected to fulfil certain social obligations. Very often he is forced to obey some social rules and regulations and show culturally approved behaviour.
But the person has a lots of antisocial desires to be satisfied. This leads to conflict and clash. In an attempt to solve these conflicts prejudice occurs. Getting money and political eminence are good socially approved needs.
But, if the individual uses the socially disapproved ways to satisfy these needs and then rationalises, he projects and attributes his own faults on other groups, classes or castes, leading to the occurrence of prejudice. Prejudice has its roots in the parental and cultural influences of adult life.
Sometimes the culturally disapproved needs particularly which conflict with the moral ideology of the person are repressed. Since, the repressed tensions remain in a dynamic form and always in the verge of coming out, they are reflected in the defence mechanism of projection. Through this mechanism, they attribute uncomplimentary and mallacious characters to a specific group or race.
The California study of Frenkel-Brunswik relating the T.A. T test conducted on the anti-semantic girls indicated meaningless jealousy, repressed hatred and suspicion towards parental figures. These repressed tendencies find out outlet in negative attitudes and antipathy against various racial groups which serve as scope goat.
Prejudice is also caused due to ambiguous and crisis situation. In a crisis situation, the individual frequently may take recourse to beliefs and attitudes of racial prejudice. At this moment, the only available interpretation offered to him by his culture and environment is accepted quickly to meet the crisis situation.
There is no time to wait, analyse and reason before accepting the facts. Their ambiguous and vague ideas and beliefs about other countries now in a crisis situation become crystallized and they quickly accept the readymade ideas and suggestions.
People also seem to develop prejudice for the sake of self respect, to defend the self and to maintain the individuals identification with the society which is also called conformity.
Beliefs and attitudes of racial prejudice frequently stem from emotional experiences and needs. But they result in guilt feeling, emotional conflicts and aggressive defence reactions etc. Thus, it is said belies and attitudes do something for the person and to the person.
Causes of prejudice have also been explained from the psychodynamic point of view by some through repressed hostility, castration anxiety and Oedipus complex. Minor conflicts between small groups is related to national and international tension and prejudice.
(b) Influence of Parents:
Parents often transmit their own prejudice to their children. Several Studies indicate that parents are the primary source from which the racial prejudices are learnt.
But Bird and his associates found low correlation between the attitudes of parents and children towards Negroes. Frenkel, Brensik and Harel (1953) also indicate low positive correlation, between children’s ethnic attitude and those of their parents.
Though these studies do not refute the role of parents in the causation of prejudice, they, however, suggest that heavy weightage should not be given to the role of parents in the transmission of prejudice.
Different studies indicate that in younger age group less prejudice is observed. Studies also show that young people are relatively more tolerant compared to older people. Before three years prejudice does not enter the minds of children as studies indicate.
Waller (1964), Maykovich (1975) and Mohanty (1980) found that age and education were significantly associated with ethocentrism. Katz (1976) observed that by the age of three or four years children are able to distinguish between blacks and whites and also possess different feelings towards them.
Since ages, some occupations are considered appropriate for men than for women and vice versa. Jobs in police, airforce, navy are considered to be in appropriate for women and jobs of teachers, doctors and nurses are said to be appropriate for women. It is a prejudice. Here historical attitude influences this discrimination.
Studies indicate that religious background or religion as a causative factor of prejudice do not provide any consistent picture. However, several studies show Catholics to be more prejudiced against negroes, protestants next most prejudiced, jews and people with less religious affiliation are least prejudiced.
Investigators like Hanlan (1942) Adorno etal. (1950) have found that ethnic prejudice was highest for catholics and lowest for jews. Conflicting result in this area need further investigation on the relationship between religion and prejudice.
(v) Cultural Determinants:
Each and every culture has got certain beliefs, attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices regarding other groups. Prejudices are, thus, portions of cultural heritage. Studies reveal that prejudice found in a particular culture is prevalent in the children of that culture.
Sociologists and anthropologists say that increasing urbanization, complexity of society, increasing population density and competition for jobs operate in various ways to increase prejudice towards minority groups.
Prejudices also occur because of the differences in languages spoken, customs and ways of living like the differences in the ways of living of Hindus and Christians, Hindus and Muslims, whites and blacks, Americans and Jews etc.
Prejudice increases particularly when a group feels that he is threatened by another group. Prejudices, infact, grow as a social norm of a group to which all adjust and share.
All these discussions and studies on the determinants and causes of prejudice lead to one basic truth that the underlying factors of prejudice are multidimensional and large number of factors operate in the development of prejudice.
Essay # 4. Some Indian Studies on Prejudice:
In India, research on prejudice is of special significance because of various castes, creeds, communities and religions in Indian society. Prejudice in India, therefore, manifests itself in many forms in relation to religion, caste, language etc.
The importance of studies on prejudice in India has been realised specially after 1947 when the Hindu Muslim conflict became a matter of grave concern for the sociologists and psychologist.
The range of social distance is very high in Indian societies because of inadequate interpersonal relationship. This is obvious from the Hindu, Muslim conflicts, riots, Christian and nonchristian feeling, lower and higher caste feeling, and the exploitation of the poor class by the rich.
Sometimes politically dominant groups continue to dominate on other groups. This creates ill feeling, anger and as a result prejudice in the minds of the disadvantaged and weaker section of the society.
Though, large number of studies on prejudice have been conducted in western countries, the findings of such studies are not fully applicable in India. Since, Indian social conditions are completely different from the western conditions the western finding cannot give adequate information about the origin and development of prejudice in India.
In order to get accurate information in this regard, studies on prejudice are to be made in the Indian climate, Indian socio-economic conditions and in the prespective of the uniqueness of the Indian society, Indian and Western societies are different culturally, economically and politically.
Hence study on prejudice has to be conducted in the Indian land on the Indian people for the last so many years. After independence, there has been a lot of discussion on national integration which is extremely urgent in the present India because of suspicion, hatred and distrust among the members of the society.
To bring out national integration scientific study of prejudice in India should get top most priority. Thus, sociologists and social psychologists have attempted to perceive prejudice and other social tensions as an important area of investigation in India. In the field of Methodology also, the original Indian attempts and necessary as techniques used to measure Negro.
White prejudice or Anti-semitic prejudice cannot be used in the Indian context. In the ICSSR survey of social psychology it has also been pointed out the work of prejudice has not been very extensive and very little work has been done on the genesis and evaluation of stereotypes and prejudices. So, it is high time to start research in this field.
Murphy started the scientific study on prejudice in India sponsored by the Govt, of India with the help of the UNESCO. He has summarised the findings of this study “In the Minds of Men”. The studies were mainly based on Hindu Muslim relations and intercaste tensions. Murphy observed that in India, the child rearing practices may be connected with prejudice.
Mrs. Murphy has emphasized on dependence, early freedom from frustration leading to the absence of habits, controlling aggression, lack of opportunities in childhood for group planning and thinking, leading to lack of methods of resolving conflicts between groups in adulthood responsible for development of prejudice.
Adinarayan (1953) Using Bogardus social distance scale studied the racial and communal attitudes of Hindu-Muslim respondents before and after independence. Results indicated that the attitude of the Hindus towards the Muslims have undergone tremendous change for the worse after the creation of Pakistan. Little significant difference was found between the social and communal attitudes of men and women in India.
Khan (1955) found that people belonging to different groups have unfavourable attitude towards each other.
According to Ansari (1956) group prejudice between Hindus and Muslims have been very strong and widespread to distort intergroup perception, judgement and evaluation of the qualities.
Adityanarayan’s study (1957) indicated that prejudice seemed to be directly related to the cognitive background and also seemed to decline with increase in personal acquaintances between groups. Singh (1963a) noted that the Indian students in Britain rated the English higher than Indian in public role. On the other hand, the Indians were rated higher in private roles.
Dutta (1965) conducted a study to measure attitude of University students towards religion and found that females were more religious than males. Hites (1965) examined the effect of age, and education on religious attitude and found that older people were more religious than the younger ones.
Further, the more educated people were less religious than the less educated people. Paul’s (1966) findings supported those of Hites (1965).
Panchabhra (1966) collected data from 150 Adivasi undergraduates belonging to Santhal, Oraon and Munda tribes of Chotta Nagpur, Bihar. He found that compared to Christian subjects, the non- christians attributed more unfavourable and less favourable adjectives to Indian Christians.
Chatterjee (1972) attempted to explore the existence of communal, caste and sex prejudices and also the socio-psychological correlates among female college students of high and low caste. Findings indicated that while the urban students had higher religious and gender prejudices, the rural students had more religious information than the other groups.
There was a significant positive correlation among these prejudices and religiousity, authoritarianism and anxiety, but these were negatively related to religious information.
Singh (1972) found that the prejudiced school children compared to the unprejudiced ones had very little correct information about other religions and the unprejudiced children had more correct information not only about their own religion, but also about other religions.
Hasan and Singh (1973) found that the personality variables had higher correlations with prejudice than sociological variables. Results indicated anxiety to be the most powerful correlate of prejudice.
Studies on Caste Problems:
Kupuswamy (1956), Rath and Das (1957), Rath and Sircar (1960) have made some studies on caste prejudice. Singh, Singh and Singh (1960) made a study on the development of caste consciousness among children between 4-10 years of age. It was observed that caste consciousness develops faster in boys than in girls, in rural than in urban children, earlier and faster in upper castes than lower castes.
Premsarkar studied the impact of education on the high caste Hindu’s attitudes towards the Harijans. Only significant difference was observed in the stereotypes of the two groups. Educated group indicated larger significant stereotypes than their uneducated counterparts. Thus, results indicated that the cognitive component of the attitude was more unfavourable in the educated group compared to the uneducated group.
Singh (1967) studied the nature and causes of intercaste tension in two villages in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Individuals involved in conflict at the time of the investigation tended to show more tension. Further, social distance was found to be greatest between Brahmins and Harijans and least between Brahmins and Marathas.
Chatterjee (1972) found that male college students had more caste prejudices than female college students. Since, prejudice develops through a slow and gradual learning process and hence, cannot be checked suddenly, it was felt that the study of various prejudices in children would help in channelising and controlling them.
Among different prejudices, social prejudices like caste, sex and class prejudices are of tremendous importance as social life, inter personal relationship and adjustment of the individual in social situations are determined by them.
Caste prejudice manifests itself in intercaste tension, religious prejudice through communal riots and religious conflicts and sex or gender prejudices, in the form of intolerance of the members of the opposite sex.
As a result of such prejudices, people confine their social interaction within a restricted group. Besides creating and elevating all sorts of misunderstanding, tension and mistrust progress of the nation is hampered due to cold war and back biting.
Prejudice has been the most important topic of Social psychology as it is related to socialisation and formation of personality. The theories of prejudice indicate that the origin and development of prejudice can be traced to the early years of socialisation. But very little studies on prejudice have been done on children. By studying the development of prejudice in the early years of childhood, during the process of socialisation the causes of prejudice can be traced.
But only a fewer studies have been done on children. Most of the works on attitudes, stereotypes and prejudice are mostly of the survey type. The time was, therefore, ripe to study the development of prejudice in children from the psychological, social and cultural stand. Since, prejudice grows slowly with the growth of personality, and gradual learning process, the root of prejudice lies in the childhood.
Though, certain methodological difficulty lies in studying young children, like the difficulty of measurement etc. still it is essential to study the prejudice of young school going children with the help of the existing methodology.
Against this background G.B. Mohanty (1980) made an attempt to find out whether children of different groups formed on the basis of caste, religion and sex differ or not in caste, religious and sex prejudices. The above study entitled “Prejudice in Indian children” the first of its kind in Orissa and sponsored by the ICSSR was conducted on Oriya Hindu and Muslim boys and girls of class X and XI.
The purpose of the study was to compare the amount and pattern of religious, caste and sex prejudice and to study the relationship between personal factors and prejudice in the children of two important religious groups, Hindus and Muslims.
105 Hindu boys, 114 Hindu girls, 131 Muslim boys and 101 Muslim girls of class X and XI of high and low castes selected by stratified random sampling technique from different schools of Cuttack city constitute the sample of the study. The Hindu and Muslim boys and girls were matched on caste, level of education, age, sex and area of residence.
Tools and equipments used in the study include:
(i) A personal data questionnaire covering information about sociological and personal factors such as age, sex, class, religion, caste, parental income and area of residence and
(ii) Prejudices scale measuring religious, caste and sex prejudices developed by A.K. Singh and used in the NCERT developmental norm project.
The main findings of the study are summarised as follows:
(i) Boys have significantly more prejudice than girls. There is no significant difference between boys and girls in religious and caste prejudices.
(ii) High Caste boys show greater sex prejudice than high caste girls (significant at .05 level). No significant difference is found in religious and caste prejudices between high caste boys and girls. Low caste girls have higher religious and caste prejudices than low caste boys. In sex prejudice, however, the comparative groups do not show any difference.
High caste Hindu and Muslim do not differ significantly in any category of prejudice. Both the comparative groups do not have any prejudice as all the mean values are less than the midpoints which further suggest that both the caste groups are not prejudiced, so far, as religion, caste and sex are concerned. There does not exist any significant difference in the religious, caste and sex prejudices of Hindus and Muslims.
Low caste students show significantly higher religious, caste and sex prejudices than the high caste students. No true difference is obtained between the low caste Hindus and low caste Muslims, so far, as religious, caste and sex prejudices are concerned. High caste Hindu boys show significantly greater sex prejudice than high caste Hindu girls.
Low caste Hindu girls show significantly greater religious and sex prejudice than high caste Hindu girls.
No significant difference exists between low caste Hindu boys in religious, caste and sex prejudice. High caste Muslim boys and girls do not show significant difference in the extent of religious, caste or sex prejudices.
High caste and low caste Muslim boys do not indicate any significant difference in religious, caste or sex prejudices. Low caste Muslim girls have scored significantly high in religious and caste prejudices than low caste Muslim boys.
High caste and low caste boys do not show significant difference in any category of prejudice considered for the present study. High caste and low caste girls show significant difference in all categories of prejudices.
High Caste Hindu boys and girls do show significant difference in their religious and sex prejudices. High caste and low caste Muslims show significant difference in their religious and sex prejudices.
High caste Hindu and Muslim girls do not show any difference in their prejudice scores.
Higher significant difference is obtained between the low caste Hindu and Muslim girls only in caste prejudice.
Thus, keeping in view, the summary of the findings of this investigation it was concluded that, by and large, boys and girls differ significantly in their prejudice scores and that high caste and low caste school students also indicate significant differences in their prejudice.
But no significant difference is obtained between the prejudices of Hindus and Muslims which is definitely an interesting and significant finding. Further, research in this area by taking large samples may perhaps throw more light on the problem of Hindu-Muslim prejudices.
Essay # 5. Functions of Prejudice:
Prejudice creates all sorts of misunderstandings and dangerous gaps between persons, groups, nations and nationalities. It is the root of cold war, jealousy, quarrel among persons, societies and nations. All round development of society is blocked due to the development of strong prejudices.
History reflects that due to long-standing prejudices, man’s ability, capacity and physical resources of a country have not been properly utilized. Irrational prejudices against each other have marred the quality of civilized human life.
By producing social distance and social tension prejudice functions mostly in a negative manner. Prejudice promotes social tension and jealousy which exploits the peace, prosperity and happiness of human civilization.
Essay # 6. Methods of Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination:
Prejudices virtually affect all of us and pose serious problems in personal and social life and cause unnecessary tensions, irritation, arrogance and friction and what not. Hence, reducing prejudice and eliminating its negative effects are important tasks.
The negative consequences of prejudice are explained in the slaughter of six million Jews by Nazi Germany. Perhaps, it is the most blatant example of prejudice in recent history. Some prejudices present real social danger leading to conflict and struggle between political parties, socio-economic groups, races, sexes and religions.
Prejudices have multiple causes and some prejudices are probably inevitable. A large number of methods and strategies have been used to reduce prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice cannot be completely removed or eradicated as it grows in the society and in the minds of men. However, it can be reduced by the following techniques developed by different social scientists.
(1) Through information, education and propaganda integration is required from the school level and to educate the mind of people and bring consciousness to reduce prejudice.
(2) Propaganda can be most successful in eliminating prejudice when attempts are made to enlighten the ignorant and provide emotional satisfaction simultaneously through facilitation and improvement in intergroup contact, understanding and harmony.
(3) Through establishment of organisations to fight against prejudices towards women, dowry, family planning, low socio-economic status and socially disadvantaged, towards different communities, castes, towards various diseases, illiterates, rural people, urban people and various other social, economic and political issues and undemocratic movements.
(4) Investigations and adjustment relating to intergroup differences and to reward intergroup understanding and harmony is desirable.
(5) By improving the standard of minority groups and communities which are considered to be the likely source of tension because of their low standard prejudice can be reduced.
(6) By avoiding segregation and discrimination in employment, housing and public service, removal of unemployment as these are potent sources of danger in creating frustration and encouraging the growth of prejudice can be reduced.
(7) Programmes for training officials and social workers in handling communal and intergroup tension are necessary to reduce prejudice.
(8) Political pressure, laws and legislatures against unfair practices like the law passed in America that prejudicial treatment between the blacks and whites is punishable by law or laws passed against dowry, child marriage etc. in India are necessary to reduce prejudice.
(9) Psychotheraphy and group therapy techniques to remove prejudicial attitudes can be used.
(10) Interracial contacts as parts of community programmes like inter social meetings and contacts, conferences, social contacts and social intercourse to reduce misunderstanding can be developed to reduce prejudice.
(11) By means of newspapers, Radio, TV, motion pictures, fictions, advertisements and comic strips and other mass publicity programmes prejudice can be reduced. The studies of Lazarsfeld (1947), however, indicate that radio broadcast meant to promote intergroup relations were not listened by the group to whom the discussion was addressed.
Some have suggested that any attack on prejudice can be successful when its core its attacked and both the group needs and personal needs to be taken care of to combat prejudice.
Williams in his report on the removal of prejudice has pointed out that instead of a large scale application of the methods, it will be wiser for the social scientists to pretest the different techniques of reducing prejudice. So, he remarks that there can be no action without research and no research without action.
He has also suggested some other programmes of reducing prejudice which can be used in heterogeneous people of India suffering from severe prejudice. He emphasizes homogeneity and difference in socio-economic and political systems in individuals and in caste, community and gender. If all people become equal in everything, probably there will be very less prejudice which is, of course, practically impossible.
Thus, homogeneity can reduce prejudice and if all the groups are assimilated in to one homogeneous groups some common belief, cultural set up, attitude and religious pattern prejudice will be drastically reduced. One of the ways of reducing prejudice is to mould the view of different people into one. The emphasis is, thus, in universality. But practically it may not be possible.
Some have suggested cultural pluralism to reduce prejudice. In this, the distinctive characteristics of different groups will be retained but all the groups will be under the umbrella of one system of value and tradition which will be the common social denominator. Thus, there should be unity in diversity.
This idea of reducing prejudice is specially applicable in India, which contains heterogeneous groups. This doctrine presents a compromise between the universality technique and individuality technique use to reduce prejudice.
UNESCO has sponsored research to reduce social tension and prejudice in different parts of the world. Murphy in this connection came to India to study prejudice.
Some social psychologists working in the area of motivation have argued that by changing the motivational factors and needs of individuals their prejudice can be reduced or changed. Since beliefs and attitudes play a paramount part in the personality structure of the individual, any positive programme changing beliefs and attitudes must be tailored to these motivational factors.
Prejudice can be reduced by eliminating the repressed, frustrated and socially unacceptable need structures.
Steps should be taken for adequate satisfaction of man’s common and socially acceptable needs. Further, psychological insight of parents should be increased for psychological therapy. Thirdly, any economic, political and sociological policy that can minimise the frustration of any important need is a major weapon in the control of motivational factors leading to prejudice.
Though, it may be difficult if not impossible to undertake a programme of action of this type, certain needs, like self expression, leadership, belongingness, power and recognition can be satisfied by becoming a member of various cultural, fraternal and recreational organizations.
Sometimes profound and disturbing emotional experience produce culturally unaccepted behaviour leading to strong prejudice. To remove the effects of traumatic emotional experiences, children should be trained to get emotional security through psychological education, guidance and counselling.
Research indicate that prejudiced individuals often became anxious and sullen when relating with the targets of their prejudice.
By controlling the negative attitude towards a minority group one can take steps to remove the environmental support to change prejudice. Inter marriages, improvement of education and socioeconomic status by providing nutritional, medical and recreational care for the minority group and abolition of segregation practices may lead to the reduction and elimination of prejudices.
Surnames, symbols, dress and food habits of persons should be changed which keep people separated from one another. But people may not like to change their uniqueness and hence, Lewin has viewed that it may be psychologically unsound. Since, in crisis and frustrating situations, beliefs and attitudes are more amenable to change this advantage should be utilized to change prejudice.
Fieldman (1985) has suggested three major techniques to reduce prejudice and discrimination:
When groups spend time together differences disappear. Allport first suggested that intergroup contact can reduce prejudice if it is structured in appropriate ways.
But identification of appropriate contact is urgent as various instances of prejudice are seen in areas of interaction between majority and minority group members. Contact is effective to the maximum degree when there is equal status within a setting of people belonging to both groups.
2. Intimacy of Contact:
The interaction must be close physically and mentally, Superficial contact is ineffective in educating prejudice. Intimate contact helps to individualize the disliked group members which indicates that a person will be perceived less interms of a stereotyped one and more interms of an individual.
3. Interdependent Interaction:
Contact becomes very effective when the two people cooperate in a mutually interdependent activity. Katz (1956) used the self insight training technique to reduce prejudice.
They thought that since prejudice is largely ego-defensive, providing insight into the dynamics of prejudices may help in the reduction of prejudice. Katz found that in comparison to statement of simple facts, self insight was more effective in changing a person’s attitude. When a prejudice is not consistent with one’s self image, it may change or reduce.
Since prejudice is related to authoritarian personality as suggested by some, change in child rearing practices may also reduce prejudice. Rigid discipline, harsh and dominant behaviour of parents lead to insecurity, feeling of deprivation and maladjustment in children which are conducive personality traits for the growth of prejudices.
By flexible and democratic child rearing practices prejudice can be avoided. Since, prejudice develops out of the socialization process, the pattern of socialization is to be changed to change prejudice. Secord and Blackman (1964) have held that prejudice may be reduced, when a member of the minority group occupies two incompatible roles.
Venkatasubramanyu (1967) using a self rating scale tried to reduce prejudice towards the Hindi language of the Northerners and the Brahmin caste of the South Indian College students. He used classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning, modelling influence and self counter conditioning to reduce prejudice. Results indicated that out of 212 high prejudice subjects, 85 had changed significantly.
He also found among the above four methods used the most successful methods to reduce prejudice were selfcounter conditioning through role playing and modelling influence. Instrumental conditioning and classical conditioning were least effective. Since, prejudices are caused by multiple factors, he also found that prejudice is reduced considerably when multiple methods are used.
Changes in the beliefs and attitudes about the minorities and the outgroups can bring a corresponding change in prejudice and behaviour towards members of such groups. Through persuasion, demonstration and propagandas, this aim can be achieved.
In propaganda to reduce prejudice, controversial elements may be disguised or eliminated by distortion of relevant facts and the motives being propaganda may be hidden.
It is also observed that only when propaganda is based on economic groups, it becomes useful in distorting the displacement of aggression. In any type of propaganda against prejudice where historical and traditional forces are operating, understanding of interpersonal relationship and group need is of tremendous importance.
By teaching people to understand others and like them through direct educational techniques prejudice can be reduced. Integration of elementary school education i.e., whites and blacks studying together, general castes and backward castes studying together, is essential.
Some educational programmes have been held for this, but there has been no systematic attempt to evaluate such programmes. Baron and Byrne (1988) have also suggested four techniques to combat prejudice which overlaps to some extent the other strategies.
They held that, though, none of the strategies alone can totally eliminate prejudice and discrimination together, they can make substantial improvement in these persistent problems.
The four techniques are as follows:
1. Breaking the Chain of Biogotry i.e., learning not to Hate:
Children are not born with any attitude, belief or prejudices. Parents play a very important role in the formation of their children’s attitude which grows slowly and gradually through the socialization process and social learning like modeling, operant conditioning etc.
So, parent should be given training not to teach their children to hate anybody, not to develop feeling of discrimination, annoyance and irritation without any real basis. Campaigns should be planned to increase the awareness of parents and to discourage them to demonstrate prejudice in their own behaviour. Attempts should be made to nip prejudice from the bud. Teachers can also play a positive role in this regard.
2. Direct Intergroup Contact:
This is known as the contact hypothesis and has been discussed earlier. The potential benefit of acquaintance might prove effective by knowing each other. The negative schemata developed earlier may crumble or change in a positive direction.
Cook (1985) says that direct intergroup contact may prove beneficial only when it occurs under highly specific conditions i.e., the groups must be roughly equal in social, economic or task related status.
Cooperation and interdependence should also be there to lead the groups to shared goals. The persons involved must view one another as typical of their respective groups. Then only they can generalize their pleasant contacts to other persons or situations and demonstrate more positive reactions to the outgroup.
When contact between initially hostile groups occurs prejudice between them does seem to decrease. Integrated job situations, integrated summer camps, youth festivals, NCC camps can also reduce prejudice.
3. Learning to Make Distinctions:
The ideas, beliefs and schematas already at our disposal help in categorizing somebody when we meet him for the first time and we fail to notice other important favourable characteristics of the person. Such biased and stereotyped thinking are the core of various prejudices which are due to “mindlessness“. Such tendency can be eliminated by inducting people to behave more mindfully and more carefully.
Langer, Bashner and Charowitz’s (1985) indicate that as per the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court, USA during 1960-70 tried to desegregate the nation’s schools which were earlier strictly divided along racial lines. But subsequent follow up studies undertaken to assess the defects of desegregation give a confusing picture and the contact hypothesis has not been strongly confirmed.
This is perhaps because of the difference in status i.e., minority children (Blacks) came from disadvantaged status. Thus, one cannot conclude that by keeping people together prejudice can be reduced.
Since, prejudices have multifarious and diverse causes, the different techniques of reducing or changing prejudice may be used in isolation or in combination depending upon the type and strength of prejudice. Particularly the origin, development and causes of prejudice are traced to the early years of socialization.
Hence, steps should be taken from the early stage of growth to prevent the development of prejudice as far as practicable. In this regard, the responsibility of parents, teachers, peers and neighbours and other agents of socialization are of vast importance.