Stereotypes, Prejudices, and Discrimination, and Explore Purposeful Methods to Reduce Them, Through Self-Assessment
The human species is the most diverse and is characterized by many shared similarities as well as differences. People coexist in social groups that support identity formation. The identities create differences that others neither reconcile nor accept easily. As a result, individuals develop a prejudice against people in non-similar groups. Prejudice is a negative feeling or attitude towards another person solely based on differences in social groups. This reflection essay assesses stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination and explores how to reduce them through self-assessments.
Prejudice normally starts as a stereotype. Stereotype refers to a specific assumption or belief about people primarily based on their affiliation with a certain group, irrespective of their traits. Often, a stereotypic behavior overgeneralizes and attributes some traits to individuals or a particular group. For instance, those holding attitudes or prejudiced notions towards the aged tend to believe they are incompetent and slow. In reality, it is impossible to deduce that someone is incompetent and slow based on their age. This negative notion overgeneralizes all members of the advanced age groups, yet they may be intelligent and spry.
In some situations, people act on their prejudiced thoughts and attitudes towards a given group, and this form of behavior is called discrimination. Discrimination means a negative reaction towards another person or group due to an individual’s membership in a given group. The prejudiced deal with frequent poor treatment from those holding stereotypic and prejudicial reservations.
Various scholars have conducted studies that touch on stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination to express their points of view over these subjects. According to Hjerm et al.’s study on the development of discrimination, prejudice, and peer attitudes among adolescents, the immediate social environment primarily influences attitudes. The authors assert that people are normally susceptible to social influence derived from their immediate social surroundings, especially adolescents. Their study reveals how social relationships propel individual attitudes (Hjerm et al. 4). Their study uses symbolic racism and social theory to posit that prejudicial attitudes are mostly drawn from influential others like students and peers.
In another study on stereotypes, experience, and discrimination among workers, (Birkelund et al. 506-507) postulate that back labor market discrimination in the United States (U.S) is deeply embedded or rooted in the stereotypes of minorities in the American employers’ society. Their study indicates that considerable racial discrimination and inequality are still pervasive in the American labor market. Unlike whites, black individuals are discriminated against in the labor market. They are twice unlikely to be absorbed in the available jobs and earn twenty-five percent less than the whites when employed (Birkelund et al. 508). They attribute this disparity to race-based employment discrimination. Correspondingly, they also suggest that the black American systematic obstacles to getting employed in good jobs are because of the stereotypes of the black Americans.
Brkelunde et al. explored testable aspects that relate to stereotypes, discrimination, and experience on hiring behavior of the blacks in the American labor market. However, the authors did not modify the study’s instruments accordingly to collect, analyze, measure the subject area of study. The randomized experiments explored racial discrimination in the United States labor market. What was lacking in the study was the use of inferential statistics. As a study with various hypotheses, it ought to have incorporated inferential statistics for hypothesis testing purposes.
The most positive aspect of the first research article by Hjerm and others is the clarity of their problem statement and the relevance of its literature review. In contrast, the most negative aspects are noticeable the study’s methodological flaws. The authors stress the lack of studies or research on prejudice and peer attitudes among youths. In addition, the problem is implied in the article’s abstract, but the authors did not directly address it until they identified their hypotheses later.
Wolf picked on thirteen relevant peer-reviewed articles mostly published between 2007 and 2014. This choice demonstrates the authors used a good rule of thumb, which recommends using sources published within the past ten years for studies in literature, humanities, arts, and numerous others (Wolf). However, the negative aspects were evident in the article’s methodological flaws. Inferential statistics can help the authors evaluate the within groups and between groups differences responses on the hypothesis using an ANOVA test.
Hjerm et al. reveal that the development of discrimination, prejudice, and peer attitudes, especially in adolescents, is driven by people’s immediate social environment. Their main assertion is that people are normally susceptible to social influence derived from their immediate social surroundings. For instance, they state that, as proposed by the social learning theory, influential individuals like teachers, parents, and peers normally influence the behaviors and attitudes of children (Hjerm et al. 5).
Hjerm et al. also state that a person’s upbringing to greater miles may make them prejudicial (8). For instance, when parents or close relatives have prejudices, higher chances are that the following generations will have similar pinions (Hjerm et al. 6). Also, another example is that victims of a given type of bullying nay end up becoming bullies themselves. Similarly, if an individual has encountered or become a victim of prejudice, the higher the chances are that they will hold the same opinion or act on others.
Lastly, Hjerm et al. posit that a bad experience with an individual from a given group may cause one to assume that all people form that groups behave the same way (Hjerm et al. 10). This view demonstrates that stereotyping emanates from people’s reactions to their environment, like discrimination and prejudices.
The most surprising part from the readings is the main cause of stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice in our immediate surroundings. As suggested by Hjerm and others, the cause of the undesirable acts of stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice are those with whom we interact closely (Hjerm et al. 5). Also, another surprising part of these undesirable acts is that a person’s past determines them (Birkelund et al. 515). Birkelund suggests that the black American job markets’ discrimination is a result of the long-standing stereotyping history of the blacks.
Despite being part of our everyday life, there are purposeful methods that we can apply to reduce stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. One way is through education. According to a report on the BBC’s website, normally prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping s normally based on ignorance. Therefore, the most appropriate solution is ignorance. Through education, people can develop cross-group friendships hence deterring themselves from any discriminatory act on others.
Another purposeful way to lower prejudice, stereotype, and discrimination is by introducing awareness and support for anti-prejudice, anti-discriminatory, and anti-stereotyping social norms. Increasing engagements with other groups’ members help attain the actions. According to Zschirnt and Diane, making people aware of their personal belief’s inconsistencies make them deviate from undesirable acts of discrimination, prejudice, and stereotype (1120).
By promoting positive feelings and attitudes towards other out-groups, we can end prejudice (Ahmad 9). For instance, I stopped discriminating against my friends based on their low socio-economic status by developing a positive attitude and feeling towards them. The decision helped stop prejudicial judgements and stereotypic categorization of others.
After taking the Anti-Defamation League Personal Self-Assessment of Anti-Bias Behavior, I appreciated the importance of “being open to other people’s feedback on ways in which my behavior can be culturally insensitive or offensive to them.” I have not been offering other people a chance to compliment how my behavior can inflict others based on their compliments about me. I wish to change on this area and openly allow other people’s compliments to help me positively transform my behavior.
To implement this change, I will listen to others’ compliments about me with an open mind even if I disagree with them. Another way is by appreciating diversity. Through this acceptance, I will accept other peoples’ opinions about me as valid. Lastly, I will try to think hard before speaking to avoid making remarks that inflict others.
Stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice are major issues that everyone confronts. The evidence reveals that people receive differential treatment that negatively impact their way of living because of discrimination, stereotyping, and prejudice. For instance, stereotyping influences job allocation to members of a given group within our societies. However, the most effective way to reduce these undesirable acts within our societies is education, especially among young people, to enhance cross-relationships with members of other groups. Another way is by developing a positive attitude and feelings towards members of a different group.
Ahmad, Ali. “When the name matters: An experimental investigation of ethnic discrimination in the finish labor market.” Sociological Inquiry, vol. 2019, no. 2, 2019. pp. 1-9.
Birkelund, Gunn, Johannessen Lars, Rasmussen Erik, and Rogstad Jon. “Experience, stereotypes and discrimination. Employers’ reflections on their hiring behavior.” European Societies, vol. 22, no. 4, 2020, pp. 503-524.
Hjerm, Mikael, Maureen A. Eagre and Rickard, Danell. “Peer Attitude and the Development of Prejudice in Adolescence.” Socious: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, vol. 4, no. 3, 2018, pp. 1-20.
Wolf, Elyse. “FAQ: How old should or can a source be for my research?” SNHU, 04 Jun. 2019, libanswers.snhu.edu/faq/215024
Zschirnt, Emelda and Ruedin, Diane. “Ethnic discrimination in hiring decisions: A meta-analysis of correspondence tests 1990–2015.”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 42, no. 2, 2019, pp. 1115–1134.