The less secure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudice, Clint Eastwood.
Do not be prejudiced. As our mind deceives us when we believe that one line is longer than the other, it also makes us think that those -and also naturally, us- who belong to our group (ingroup, those who share the same sex, social group, age, ethnicity, religion, nationality, etc. with us) are better than members of the outgroup (those from the opposite sex, different social group, religion, age, etc.).
It also tricks us into seeing all members of the outgroup as quite similar amongst themselves. You may have heard statements, such as “all men are only after sex”, “all Germans are rude and innately evil”, “French are arrogant and cowardly”, etc.
What does it take to produce this discrimination amongst groups?
It has been demonstrated that very little is needed indeed. The mere categorization or grouping of individuals into groups, even for arbitrary reasons, without any logical motivation, is more than enough. Thus, experiments were performed using different criteria, such as eye colour (blue and brown eyes), shirt colour, pure chance (head versus tails), etc.
The results were always the same, we all favour our own groups, we all value members from our community, religion, country, etc. much more.
Let’s delve in a little deeper.
What is prejudice?
Allport defined prejudice in “The Nature of Prejudice” (1977), as “a feeling, favourable or unfavourable, towards a person or thing, prior to, or not based on, actual experience.” We also think of it as “any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence.”
Discrimination refers to the overt acts of individuals. However, the modern man/woman wants to project a positive and “democratic” image of him/herself. Therefore, people tend to respond to expectations more as a result of their social desirability than their true feelings.
Furthermore, modern prejudice is more subtle. It is still linked to the existence of negative feelings toward outgroups, but with certain restrictions. These feelings are not of hatred and hostility, as we imagine the Ku Klux Klan’s attacks on black Americans, but rather of discomfort, insecurity, and even fear that leads to avoidance of contact with the outgroup rather than the realization of destructive and hostile behaviour towards them.
Racism is observable in people who perceive their victims as inherently different and incapable of integrating into society and sharing the dominant group’s values. Thus, Muslims are often accused about Islam not believing in the separation of politics and religion.
Gypsies are said not to share traditional values regarding the importance of work and maintaining a harmonious family, and to live on welfare. This racism plunges its victims into exclusion, economic inequality, and social injustice. In the case of immigrants, this justifies the demands for expulsion.