Persons with high level of prejudice belief and disbelief systems are rigidly organised whereas in other individuals the systems are relatively flexible. 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 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. But, further studies also show that people who score low on the authoritarian scale may be very prejudiced.
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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. 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 on corporate executives and Sherifs several studies in this regard are notable.
Prejudice in the School Systems and How to Fix It
People usually divide the social group in which they live into two clear categories i. Clearly differentiated contrasting feelings and beliefs are generally marked in the minds of the members of the ingroup towards the outgroup and vice versa. Tajfal and Turner 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.
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. 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.
A negative attitude automatically develops towards those people shown in dirty dress, unclean dialapated cottages, growing in poverty and illiteracy, uttering faulty languages.
Recent studies of Liebert-Sparkin and Davidson and Bandura reveal the strong influence of mass media and T. 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 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. 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.
The rest he prefers to forget. Operation of such negative schemata has got support from the recent studies of Dovidio, Evans and Tyler , Greenberg and Psyzoyaski Illusiory correlations which appear to play some role in the growth of prejudices and stereotypes as found by Spears, Vander Plight and Eiser 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.
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 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. 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. 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.
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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.
In a particular cultural and social set up, the individual is expected to fulfil certain social obligations.
How People's Prejudices Develop
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.
Conformity as an Explanation of Prejudice and Discrimination
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. 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. 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. 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.