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How might prejudice develop and how might it be reduced?

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Prejudices both social and Individual are an unwanted yet unavoidable trait of modern day society, presenting itself in many different forms such as homophobia, sexism, racism, and even ageism. The word prejudice can be broken down into two parts to decipher its meaning; pre (Before), judice (judgement), and is quite literally that, the first feelings or thoughts about another individual, or group of people, based on the way that they look, and pre conceived ideas as to what that person or group of people will be like, or how they are likely to act. There are said to be three main elements of prejudice which are: Cognitive element - the way we think, Affective element - How we feel, Behavioural element - How we act, these are very basic explanations and an example is needed to explain it in more detail. If a person with very homophobic prejudices saw two same sex individuals showing affection towards one another in a public place the cognitive element explains what that person thinks about the situation which would probably be the inability to understand why they act in this way or perhaps even jealousy of these people because of their comfort with their sexuality. The affective element may cause the individual to experience negative feelings of anger, or disgust towards the couple, and the behavioural element determines the actions that the person might take due to the previous two elements, for example avoidance of the couple, or possibly verbal or even physical abuse. ...read more.


However, the theory doesn't explain how the taunts and manner in which the fans act is started. It explains that everyone acts in the same way by copying, although this suggests that one individual must have started the negative behaviour for everyone else to follow. This leads us to the question: Who starts the taunting, and does that person have a different type of personality as a leader/influential individual, than a person who is influenced/follower? As the social identity theory doesn't fully explain why individuals can have prejudice views without being part of a group, or why some individuals are more prone to prejudiced behaviour than others we must look another theory which goes some way to give explanation as to the reason why some people act differently to others. The Authoritarian personality theory proposed by Adorno et al (1950) is widely regarded as the most influential theory to explain individual differences. Adorno started his research because of his fascination with Nazi behaviour, and wanted to explore the notion that some people are more likely to become prejudiced because of the way that they believe others should behave. Adorno et al created a way to test individuals in order to determine whether or not they had an authoritarian personality, by creating a type of survey which would indicate whether or not the individual who took the test showed signs of four different types of views, and whether they correlated with one another or not. ...read more.


It was also considered that the results may have been true, but also influenced by another method of reduction: Super-Ordinate Goals, and that the combination of the two reduced prejudice significantly. The super-ordinate goals method is basically the suggestion that by putting two different groups of people together into a certain situation, but then making them interact with each other more positively by giving them a common goal in which they must work well together in order to achieve, the individuals will lose some of their inhibitions, thus a reduction in prejudice will occur. This is what is said to have happened during the war, however it could also be said that the joining of these two groups of people to fight against another group is simply the formation of another prejudice towards the opposition, and can be linked in with the Social Identity theory, and the idea that this was merely the merging of two conflicting groups to create a bigger 'in-group', however other studies have proved that this method does work in different types of scenario. As you can see there are a number of different proven methods that can be used in the reduction of prejudice however no single method is a definitive solution to the problem and so to really have an impact they must all be used in conjunction with one another in order to see any positive affects. ...read more.

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