Prejudices and Stereotypes

Prejudices refers to a set attitudes towards a particular group of people. They usually refer to negative attitudes. Attitude is a state of mind or set of views with an evaluative feature. Prejudices are often based on stereotypes about the specific group.
Stereotypes refers to fixed ideas regarding the characterstics of a specific group. Usually, stereotypes consist of undesirable characteristics about the target group. All members of the group are assumed to possess these characteristics which is often not true in reality.
Prejudice is often accompanied by dislike or hatred towards members of the group. Prejudice can be seen in behaviour through discrimination. Discrimination makes a distinction between the two groups by favouring one group over other. Sometimes prejudice can lead to excessive hatred and discrimination which may even lead to mass killing of innocent people. An example of this is the holocaust of Jews by Nazi Germany. Discrimination can controlled by law but attitudes and minds sets of people cannot.
Just like any other attitude, prejudices are also learned through observation, association, exposure to information or through culture. The family, groups, personal experiences, media also play a role in learning of prejudices. In some cases it has been observed that a strong social identity towards one’s own group may cause group bias and lead to negative attitudes towards other groups and lead to prejudice.
Another reason for prejudice is scapegoating. It is a group based way of expressing frustration towards the weaker group and it leads to negative attitudes. Here the stronger group places the blame for its problems on the weaker group. The weaker group is too weak to defend itself.,and%20can%20lead%20to%20prejudice
Sometimes people continue to hold stereotypes because they believe that after all, there may be some truth in what people say. These sorts of beliefs are rather difficult to change as they originate in response to other stronger beliefs.
Stereotypes are also learned in the similar manner as attitudes. Stereotypes are usually formed by hearing different things about the particular group. A single bad experience with the member of a group may lead to the assumption that all members of that group behave that way.
Stereotypes provide grounds for prejudices which lead to discrimination. This however, is not always true. Sometimes prejudices may develop without stereotypes or may not lead to discrimination. Similarly, discrimination may be seen without prejudice. But even so, these three are often considered to be connected.
Prejudices are attitudes and are not very easy to change if once formed. In order to control it, strategies should focus on minimising the opportunities for learning prejudices or changing such attitudes at an earlier stage. Narrow social identity based on the in-group should not be emphasised and people should be encouraged to seek out truth rather than blindly believing in what they hear.
These goals can be achieved through education and information. By correcting the stereotypes that are formed on false grounds. Emphasis should be given to individual identities rather than group identities. This can weaken strong in-group bias. Increasing the contact between the two groups can remove misunderstandings, mistrust and can lead to communication which may lead to discovery of positive characteristics.