Four Theories of Prejudice

Four Theories of Prejudice

Prejudice is the preconceived notion or opinion about a social situation that is based on stereotypes, customs and not based on a social experience and reasoning. Individuals with prejudice are biased in their opinions and behavior.

Four Theories of Prejudice 

  1. Authoritarian personality theory of Prejudice
  2. Culture theory of Prejudice
  3. Conflict theory of Prejudice
  4. Scapegoat theory of Prejudice 

Authoritarian personality theory of Prejudice: The reason for authoritarian personality is mainly strict and harsh parent upbringing. The childhood experience is the major reason for its emergence. This type of personality has rigid thinking and views the world in black and white terms. They believe in obeying authority. Authoritarian personally are influenced towards prejudicial approaches. They believe in the hierarchical structure of society. Hitler and Nazis are related to this theory. They believe some people are better than others. According to authoritarian personality theory, a certain type of individuals need it to perform effectively.

This theory of prejudice was prepared by the German sociologist Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund Adorno in 1950 using the Fascism or F scale. According to Adorno prejudice is pathological. They strongly believe that some people are just better than others. Authoritarian personalities tend towards prejudices. 

The evidence used to support this theory is

  • Case studies, e.g., Nazis
  • Psychometric testing (use of the F-scale)
  • Clinical interviews

Culture theory of Prejudice: It is the cultural transmission of stereotypes to younger generations and it ultimately leads to prejudice. The stereotypes of customs, traditions, folkways, and mores are transferred from one individual to another in a community and it leads to discrimination and prejudices. The caste system and related cultural discrimination by higher caste communities in South Asia is an example of culture theory. 

Conflict Theory of Prejudice: According to Realistic Group Conflict Theory prejudiced attitudes, approaches, and discriminatory behavior is based on certain conflicts of interest between different groups or sections of society.

Scapegoat theory of Prejudice: Someone who is unfairly made to take the blame for an incident is a scapegoat. In scapegoat theory, certain individuals believe that they are the victim of gender-based, academic-based discrimination. If person A is promoted and person B believes that person A is unfairly promoted based on prejudice, then it is scapegoat theory. Person B is not interested in finding out why he/she was not promoted. In scapegoat theory, people blame others to hide their own mistakes or failures.

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