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Key terms

Stereotype- an oversimplified, generalised set of ideas that we have about others (stereotypes can be positive or negative)

Prejudice- A rigid set of attitudes or beliefs that we have towards particular groups of people

Discrimination- The way an individual behaves towards another person or group as a result of their prejudiced view

Possible causes of prejudice and discrimination

Authoritarian personality- a personality type that is prone to being prejudiced

Characteristics of people with authoritarian personality:

  • Disliking Jews
  • Being resistant to change
  • Holding traditional values and beliefs
  • Sticking rigidly to beliefs
  • Obedient to those in higher authority
  • Looking down on those with lesser status

However, this theory does not explain why people are prejudiced towards some groups and not others. It is also difficult to provide evidence that parenting style contributes to authoritarian personality, as this relies on memory, furthermore, there are examples where children are not affected by whether their parents are prejudiced or not. Additionally, the statements used in the F-scale (the questionnaire used to test this theory) have been criticised, and the study which Adorno conducted to test this theory is ungeneralisable culturally because the study was conducted in America. Finally, this theory does not demonstrate cause and effect.

*The study conducted on this personality type was 'Adorno' in which the F-scale was used.

In-groups and out-groups

In-group-a group of people you believe you have something in common with

Out-group- a group of people whom you believe you have nothing in common with

Sherif's research into the idea that inter-group conflict can cause prejudice and discrimination involved the robber's cave experiment (in which he artifically created prejudice between two groups of young boys and concluded that competition can cause prejudice), however, the groups and competition were artifical so don't reflect everyday life and the boys were all white 12 year olds with middle-class backgrounds, thus the results of the study are ungeneralizable.  On the other hand, the study has real life implications and it also showed how quickly people can form alliances with people once they think they share something in common (as well as turn against people who they percieve as different…


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