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Gender Differences In Prejudice

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Introduction

GCSE Psychology Coursework Gender Differences in Prejudice This investigation offers an insight on the differences between males and females when it comes to prejudice. Abstract page 3 Introduction page 3 Aim page 4 Hypothesis page 5 Method page 5 Results page 7 Discussion page 8 References page 9 Appendix page 10 Abstract This study aims to determine the differences, if any, between male and female members of society when confronted with the idea of having contact with people of different sexual identities/orientations, using Bogardus social distance scale. The results show a slightly higher rate of prejudice among men, but an overall irrelevant trend, proportionally to the scale. Introduction This investigation is into prejudice. Prejudice can be defined as "an attitude towards a particular group or member of the group, based on characteristics which are assumed to be common to all members of the group". There are three sides to prejudice: the affective side (feeling negative things towards a group), the behavioural side (discrimination) and the cognitive side (stereotyping and expectations). Prejudice can be positive or negative, but the type which is potentially degrading or 4harmful to society is negative. Some of the most common kinds of prejudice are: sexism (discrimination on the grounds of sex), heterosexism (regarding gay men and lesbian women as abnormal), racism (a negative attitude towards someone of another race), ageism (discrimination on the basis of age), etc. Previous research in this area includes Adorno's authoritarian personality, Tajfel's social identity theory and Sherif's competition theory. ...read more.

Middle

The dependant variable was the level of prejudice that the participants would score. I have chosen this design in order to get direct and definite information from the people who took part in the experiment, therefore avoiding the confusions an observational study could imply. Rather than having to assume the reasons behind the participants beliefs and behaviour, I chose to ask them the questions directly. One of the possible extraneous variables was the social norm the participants might have been likely to act under: them being in a public space, the concept of taking a survey, talking to a stranger, etc. Nevertheless, several procedures were used in order to control these variables. Some of them were: approaching the participants in an assertive, neutral manner, asking the questions in an impartial tone, not reacting to any particular answer to avoid conformity, looking professional and making sure the people know there is no correct or good answer. The reason for choosing heterosexism as the type of prejudice to test people on was its relatively new emergence; a century ago, it was homosexuality that was perceived as the disorder, whereas today it is heterosexism which is seen as the problem. Also, racism, ageism or prejudice on grounds of religion might have had more extraneous variables which would have been more difficult to control, as they are more of an affective part of many people's lives. Participants --> I approached a random sample of people from various public places and asked them to volunteer to answer the questionnaire which was essentially Bogardus social distance scale. ...read more.

Conclusion

The results cannot therefore be applied to other nations. The general Zeitgeist of contemporarity which affects all studies has included the politics of the UK (homosexuality is legal), determining more and more people of various sexual identities and orientations to safely come out and take an active part in society. This has had a powerful impact on the general view of the majority on people belonging to sexual minorities. Also, participants were asked the questions in a public place and manner which might have affected their responses. They might have avoided expressing their reluctance towards people of different sexual identities or orientations due to social norms, e.g. respecting and tolerating everyone regardless of their sexual label. Another criticism of this investigation is methodological. Asking people directly questions may put pressure on them, even just on a subconscious level. While cognitively unprejudiced, there might still be an unconscious trace of inactive prejudice which could not be measured whatsoever. Improvements --> Future similar studies could be improved by using an anonymous approach, possibly by submitting the questionnaire later or online surveys. To increase the coverage of the study, multiple cultures and nations should be sampled. Implications --> Some applied uses of these findings could be: encouraging males to take on public relations jobs which would offer more contact with various people of different backgrounds and beliefs which might in turn reduce their prejudice (although Sherif argued this might not necessarily be the case), speculating the subconscious reasons for crimes, especially hate crimes, taking action in schools to tackle and prevent prejudice taking place from an early age. ...read more.

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