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Taking any three psychological theories of prejudice: How adequately do these theories explain the causes of prejudice and what has each to suggest about the possibility of reducing prejudice?

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Taking any three psychological theories of prejudice: How adequately do these theories explain the causes of prejudice and what has each to suggest about the possibility of reducing prejudice? The first experiment I would like to look at is Adorno et al (1950). In this experiment Adorno hypothesised that a child's personality especially their level of prejudice came from the way in which they were raised by their parents. Adorno argued that if children were brought up in an authoritarian environment, where the children were not allowed to express themselves they would aim there anger towards other parties. Adorno calculated that the most likely targets or scapegoats for this pent up aggression would be weaker minority groups, and would use these minorities as an ego-defensive prop. He tested his, white, middle class, non-Jewish, American, male subjects on two scales, the F scale that measured people's authoritarian and anti democratic personality traits and the PEC scale that measured peoples reluctance to social change. Adorno et al found that people who scored highly on the PEC scale usually scored highly on the F scale. Adorno concluded that this meant people who were raised in an authoritarian manner were more likely to be prejudiced. If this experiment was correct an obvious way to reduce prejudice would be to ensure children were not brought up in strict environments, as this would allow them to vent their frustrations towards their parents and not towards scapegoats and minority groups in later life. ...read more.


After a few attempts at this, friendships started to form between the groups. Sherif concluded that super-ordinate tasks could pull groups together. I think that Sherif is correct, in that interdependent actions where prejudice groups are forced to work together for a common goal breaks down barriers between groups. This only happens when contact is great enough & intimate enough to overcome misperception. Also this experiment is credible because of the subjects young age and the real to life 'summer camp' setting. This means they were probably not acting out demand characteristics. However these children were of the same age and ethnic backgrounds and were almost forced through competition not to like each other. So to bring friendship and social acceptance between two such small groups of people, with such a lot in common is difficult to relate to huge prejudice problems in the real world. Sherif's ethics are also questionable as he may have caused distress by instigating fights and prejudice feelings between the young boys, and could not be sure how this would effect their personalities as they grew up and in later life. The experiment is also impossible to replicate as there are to many variables, and can therefore not be checked to see if the same would happen again. ...read more.


To conclude I think all three of these ways of reducing prejudice must be included. I think that the authoritarianism theory from Adorno is not credible. However I think people need to be taught that prejudice is wrong at an early age, or else as we can see in the Star and Minard experiments even common goals can not completely break down prejudice. I think that the star and Minard experiments dis-prove Sherifs experiment because there is no real social background or prejudice between the groups before the experiment starts. Sherif only has to destroy a few weeks of bad feeling between the groups, where as in Star and Minards experiment the pressure form social acceptance and years of prejudice is too great for a common goal to unite the black and white people after the goal is achieved. So we need society as a whole to embrace super-ordinate goals and equal status contact, and for society to frown upon and punish prejudice to reduce its impact. Everything and everyone must be de-segregated and it must be seen as the norm for every race creed and culture to play, learn and work together. A good example of this comes from Bogatz and Ball (1971) who found that white children who watched mixed race television programmes like 'Sesame Street' had better attitudes towards blacks and Hispanics. ...read more.

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