Sample Psychology Paper on Stereotyping, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism

Introduction

The rise of contemporary issues such as immigration and globalization has created more culturally diverse societies across the world. These disruptions have the potential to create many benefits for many countries, such as improving a group approach to addressing global challenges and improving creativity in decision-making. On the contrary, people from diverse groups have been reported to be less attracted to each other compared to those belonging to a homogeneous group (Fiske, 2000). In most cases, they experience more challenges with communicating with each other and even become violent towards each other. Psychologists have categorized these behaviors as either racism, stereotypes, prejudices, or discrimination. Fortunately, violence against culturally diversified groups is rare. However, racism, stereotyping, prejudice, and racial discrimination are so prevalent and have detrimental effects on people’s lives in many ways. This discussion seeks to establish the origin, forms, and the dangers associated with each of these culturally-sensitive issues. It also recommends strategies for addressing each of these concepts.

The Difference between Stereotypes, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism

Although racism, discrimination, prejudice, and stereotypes are always used interchangeably, they are fundamentally different concepts. Stereotypes are simplified generalizations about a particular group of individuals. Stereotyping can be on the basis of any unique characteristics, such as sexual orientation, gender, race, or age (Fiske, 2000). It should be understood that stereotypes may be positive, such as when people suggest that Asians are better mathematicians or African-Americans have greater athletic abilities. However, stereotypes are always negative, demonstrating how a particular group of people is superior over the other. Either way, stereotypes are generalizations that do not consider individual differences. Children start applying stereotypes at a very tender age of between three and five years. Even before they have joined pre-school, children start categorizing people based on gender, age, and sexual orientation.

Discrimination, on the other hand, involves actions against a particular group of people. Given that it can take various forms, and is so pervasive, it is a major societal problem that affects many people. Discrimination on the basis of race is the most common among culturally diverse populations. In football games, for example, many referees have been found guilty of penalizing players on the basis of race (Fiske, 2000). Many companies have been taken to court for having a biased hiring method that discriminates some members of society. Most countries have attempted to enact laws to abolish the culture of discrimination, but it has not been an easy undertaking. Part of the reason why abolishing discrimination is not a walk in the park is due to complex educational, economic, political, and criminal justice systems.

Prejudices are the beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and thoughts that a person holds about a particular group of people. There is a misconception that prejudices are based on experiences, but they originate outside our real experiences. Racism is considered a powerful version of prejudice, given that it is based on the belief that a particular race is superior over the other. Racism is a discriminatory behavior that is embedded in our institutional systems of power through operating procedures, laws, and regulations (Mio, Barker, & Domenech, 2019). Social psychologists claim that racism helps the superior groups to dominate over the subordinate ones. The apartheid rule in South Africa and the historical slavery in America are some of the major racial discriminations in history. Institutional discrimination occurs in many forms. In the UK, for example, recruitment and selection are largely influenced by the names of the applicants. The applicants with British-based names are more likely to be shortlisted compared to applicants with foreign-based names.

The Origin of Stereotypes, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism

Having evolutionary origins makes the fight against discrimination, prejudices, racism, and stereotypes so difficult. Whereas our culture should be a basis for advancement, it is a source of both ideas that we should learn and those that we should fight against. We tend to absorb some prejudices and stereotypes from our caregivers, from a school setting, and even from the media (Mio, Barker, & Domenech, 2019). Similarly, we are living in a world that counters prejudices and stereotypes. We, therefore, find ourselves in the middle of competing ideas where the strongest wins. However, it does not mean that the strongest idea is often the best. Cultural practices that support gender and racial prejudices even make it difficult to find equality and justice.

Mental mistakes have been reported to contribute largely to our discriminative, generalization, and categorization behavior. We depend on our mental abilities to place people, objects, and ideas into different groups to make the world easier and simpler to comprehend. Given that we are bombarded with a lot of information that we are expected to sort in a methodical, logical, and rational manner, we are bound to make mistakes in the process (Mio, Barker, & Domenech, 2019). Although categorizing information and people into certain groupings helps us to react quickly, we end up making mistakes. We develop racism, prejudices, stereotypes, and discrimination from our tendencies to quickly categorize people around us.

Impacts of Stereotypes, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism

Racism and discrimination have detrimental effects on children’s health. Medical experts have documented long-term health problems associated with racism and discrimination, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and depression (Steele, Choi & Ambady, 2004). Researchers have also linked more dangers that racism poses to the growth of babies, including premature births, lower birth rates, and obesity. Exposure to racism and discrimination not only put children at risk but also threatens the lives of pregnant women. Racial discrimination causes inflammatory reactions among young adults that make their bodies more vulnerable to chronic and other illnesses. Discrimination against one generation diminishes the opportunities for future generations. For example, a society that discriminates against a particular group in employment will hamper their ability to support their families and consequently lower these children’s ability to be independent in the future.

Similarly, prejudices and stereotypes have long-lasting adverse impacts on the victims. Students, for example, perform poorly in environments where they are facing prejudices and stereotypes. Even when they are far away from the environment in which they faced prejudice or negative stereotypes, people have difficulties with coping with it. As a result, victims of prejudice and stereotyping exhibit aggressiveness and lack of control (Bigler & Liben, 2006). They experience a lot of difficulties with making critical decisions and are more likely to engage in drug abuse. Regardless of gender, age, or sexual orientation, people who had been subjected to any form of stereotyping or prejudice experience devastating impacts even in later years. The pattern is the same-they carry the burden around for many years, which adversely impacts their lives

Strategies for Reducing Stereotyping, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism

Most of the racial discrimination, prejudices, and stereotypes are often entrenched in social and historical contexts, and then reinforced by institutional practices and structures. Any attempts to change people without addressing the influences is an effort in futility (Devine, Forscher, Austin & Cox, 2012). Practices and structures, such as recruitment processes, beliefs, and traditions that have become a normal trend, must be considered in the implementation of strategies for reducing the impacts of stereotypes, racism, discrimination, and prejudices. It should also be understood that although these concepts have evolutionary origins, they are not fixed into the human brain. As a result, people are capable of drawing instructions from the environment around them and not from their DNA.

Human beings have the ability to assess their thoughts consciously and to take control of their behavior. When discussing race in schools, teachers should emphasize that all races are similar (Bigler & Liben, 2006). Teachers also have the responsibility of drawing examples of researchers and scholars working towards ending discrimination, bias, prejudice, and stereotyping. Further, teachers should prepare students at an early age to start looking beyond external appearances or differences. In environments where children belong to different cultural groups, they should be made to understand that it is possible to have different yet equally valid perspectives about issues.

Conclusion

Overall, it is evident that discrimination, racism, stereotypes, and prejudice can all undermine the proper functioning of society. When we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by unfair perceptions and disturbingly inaccurate expectations towards others, we cause long-lasting suffering in their lives.

 

References

Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (2006). A developmental intergroup theory of social stereotypes and prejudice. In Advances in child development and behavior (Vol. 34, pp. 39-89).

Devine, P. G., Forscher, P. S., Austin, A. J., & Cox, W. T. (2012). Long-term reduction in implicit race bias: A prejudice habit-breaking intervention. Journal of experimental social psychology, 48(6), 1267-1278.

Fiske, S. T. (2000). Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination at the seam between the centuries: Evolution, culture, mind, and brain. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30(3), 299-322.

Mio, J. S., Barker, L. A., & Domenech, R. M. M. (2019). Multicultural psychology: Understanding our diverse communities. New York, New York: Oxford University.

Steele, J., Choi, Y. S., & Ambady, N. (2004). Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination. In nurturing morality (pp. 77-97). Springer, Boston, MA.

 

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