ABSTRACT

This chapter addresses race and human culture; the nature of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination; and theories of prejudice. A major focus in studying prejudice has been racism, or bias that systematically disadvantages those perceived to belong to a specific racial or ethnic group. Other important biases include sexism, heterosexism, classism, and prejudice based on gender identity. Culture strongly influences perceptions of other groups. Group privilege is an unearned favored state conferred to those from advantaged groups; critical hope acknowledges that accepting one’s privilege can be difficult, but listening to others’ viewpoints leads to growth and change. Stereotypes, or beliefs about the characteristics of social groups, can be positive or negative and descriptive or prescriptive. Prejudice is affect or emotion about social group members and can be implicit (outside of conscious awareness) or explicit (conscious). Discrimination, or treating social group members differently, occurs at the interpersonal, organizational, institutional, and cultural levels. Intersectionality, or membership in multiple social groups, is also an important issue. Antiracists actively work to dismantle racism. Historically, scientific racism aimed to prove the superiority of the dominant group. Theories of prejudice include psychodynamic theory, sociocultural theory, intergroup relations theory, cognitive theory, and evolutionary theory.