Understanding Prejudice
Understanding Prejudice
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The Psychology of Prejudice: An Overview

A Concluding Note

This overview began with unambiguously prejudiced statements made by Osama bin Laden. As discouraging as it is to read these statements, it is worth noting that they do not represent the most common forms of prejudice in daily life. Abundant evidence suggests that fewer and fewer people embrace overt forms of bigotry, and that public expressions of prejudice are more likely than ever to be condemned. Thus, although terrorism, hate crimes, and other forms of fanaticism constitute serious social problems, most forms of contemporary prejudice are manifest more subtly.

At the same time, subtle prejudices present considerable challenges of their own. At a societal level, it may be even more difficult to reduce subtle forms of prejudice than extreme forms of prejudice, not only because they are more widespread, but because they arise from normal thought processes, tend to be more ambiguous, and frequently take place outside of awareness. As the research in this review makes clear, our species might aptly be described as Homo Stereotypus -- an animal predisposed to prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination, but one that also possesses the capacity to overcome these biases if motivated to do so (Blair, 2002; Fiske, 2000; Monteith & Voils, 2001). Indeed, perhaps the most important conclusions to emerge from prejudice research are these: (1) no one capable of human thought and speech is immune from harboring prejudice; (2) it often takes deliberate effort and awareness to reduce prejudice; and (3) with sufficient motivation, it can be done.

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