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Describe and evaluate two theories and two research studies that explain prejudice.

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Euan Brady Higher Psychology Describe and evaluate two theories and two research studies that explain prejudice. Prejudice is everywhere within our modern society and takes many recognisable forms. From the tendency to express acquired positive or negative attitudes to an object, having a prefixed opinion on a group in society or having prefixed actions to someone due to their membership of a certain group in society. Prejudice has many theories with which to explain its roots, and many experiments with which to assertain its dynamics. In 1950 in an attempt to explain a link between facism, racism and the authoritarian personality, entities which intertwined in Hitler's Germany, Adorno et al formed The Authoritarian Personality theory by which to explain prejudice. He stated that if a child goes through a childhood in which he or she is exposed to rigid discipline and conditional affection (in which the child is only allowed the affection of their parents upon, for example, completing certain tasks) then they would develop an authoritarian personality. As a result of having an authoritarian personality, the individual would then be in definate posession of prejudice towards others. ...read more.


With the event of this superordinate goal, inter-group relations increased as a result of the two groups working together. Within this experiment, the boys did not have authoritarian personalities. Instead they developed prejudice as a result of competition between two groups, that prejudice ebbing away as they needed to work together. This fact challanges the authoritarian personality theory. The Social Identity Theory, formulated by Tajfel in 1978, argues that discrimination between groups can be created by the mere knowledge of another group's existance, without the presence of competition or threat. Tajfel and Turner in 1979 argued that this discrimination occurs because members of a group emphasise and exaggerate their own group's qualities (in-group favouratism) while simultaneously overemphasising and exaggerating another group's bad qualities and faults (negative out-group bias). This is done in an attempt to enhance the personal image and self-esteem of the individual members of the group as they strive to portray their group in a positive light to others who may be observing. The Social Identity Theory (Tajfel 1981) has the basis that membership of a group, whether it be a large group such as nationality or a small in-class group in school, provides those within the group with an identity. ...read more.


amount of money and finally, maximum discrimination in favour of the out-group, ensuring that only the randomly allocated group they were in got the rewards. The boys chose maximum fairness when the their choices involved two in-group or two out-group members. However, when the choice was split between one in-group member and one out-group member, they chose to discriminate in favour of the in group member. The study clearly supports Tajfel's theory that discrimination is created even when the two groups are not directly competing. However, the social identity theory does not consider outside factors such as competition for resources etc It is clear that there is no one set theory to explain prejudice. However, if one chooses to assume there are multiple causes for prejudice then each theory mentioned has a degree of truth - it is probably true to assume people with authoritarian personalities are likely to display the characteristics described in Adorno et al's theory just as they are likely to display prejudiced when pitted against another group or even just placed in a separate group than other people. Prejudice is caused by many factors, each contributing in a different way in order to create a bias within an individual. ...read more.

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