Formation of Prejudice


Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez
by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez

Personality theory, social structure theory and social identity theory are three major theories used to explain, "How prejudices are developed?" They all take different research approaches and perspectives. They all have valid points in deciphering why prejudice is so pervasive in our times.


Personality Theory

 Dr. Banks defines it "as a result of both constitutional and learned needs, some people develop personalities that thrive on prejudices and irrational responses." (292-293) They believed that through a child's life structure into adulthood their experiences, and whether they had an authoritarian or authoritative parents would directly affect a person's beliefs.


Theory states that child's personality would develop either intolerance or tolerance to another ethnic group. Frenkel-Brown and associates found in their research that children were more likely to be prejudiced in an authoritarian home. (Banks, 293) As they were raised in a cruel environment, they then inflicted the same behavior of hate, resentment and cruelty to other ethnic or gender groups they saw as weak. (Schaeffer, 53)


The “oppressed becomes the oppressor instead of freeing himself”. (Paulo Freire) They showed resentment to not only other ethnic groups but also the opposite sex and admired strong role models. They rejected ethnic groups they saw as weak and inferior.


Prejudiced children were also found to be more likely to "submit to authority, more compulsive about cleanliness and more realistic". (Banks, 293) The non prejudiced children were more loving, less oriented towards power. The theory also claims that prejudice is affected by the power structure of the society the children live in.


Critics of the theory found that there was not "adequate attention" to "sampling techniques" that limit any "generalization of the findings". (Banks, 294)


According to Dr. Schaeffer another criticism was the focus of the study on "extreme racial prejudice instead of expressions of hostility". (53)


Social Structure Theory

Blumer on the other hand "almost completely dismisses the role of attitudes in influencing" prejudice. (Banks, 294) Blumer believes instead in analyzing social settings as the "prime determinant" rather than "racial attitudes" as influencing behavior. (Banks, 294)


He conducted a meta-analysis in where often it was found that what the participants believed in and voiced was not always acted on. In Blalock's findings, "discrimination is not always a correlate of racial prejudice". (Banks, 294) The belief is that the norms of society may be a greater influence on a prejudiced individual than their personal attitudes toward an ethnic group or gender group. Prejudiced individuals are so, depending on the situation.


Merton's typology has been used to explain "the relationship between prejudice and discrimination as follows: 1. The unprejudiced nondiscriminatory, 2. The unprejudiced discriminator, 3. The prejudiced nondiscriminatory, and 4. The prejudiced discriminator." (Banks, 294) The biggest criticism to this theory is that "social setting" by itself does not explain "racial discrimination" or diminish "racial attitudes". (Banks, 295)


Social Identity Theory

Social identity theory also sometimes called the "minimal group paradigm" is considered a "social psychological" theory on "prejudice and discrimination". (Banks, 296) This theory is based on the in-group and out-group developing stereotypes that cause prejudice and discrimination to develop in individuals or groups. (Banks, 296)


Researchers found that participants were more likely to favor the in-group by acting in a way that showed preference in their own ethnic group and therefore detrimental towards the out-group. Banks gave language use as an example of how certain ethnic groups tend to talk in their native language in front of others they know do not speak or understand their language.



I agree with Banks in that personalities, social structure, cultures in which people were socialized in are all equally relevant in determining the causes of prejudice. (297) Not just one of the theories by itself can explain why or how prejudice occurs. I believe that it is best to take a holistic approach in better understanding the "Why?" and "How?" of the formation of prejudice.



Banks, James A. Cultural Diversity And Education. Pearson, Inc. 2006


Friere, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Opressed. Harmondsworth. 1972

 Schaefer, Richard T. Race And Ethnicity In The United States. Pearson, Inc. 2007


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Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez

baa to movaafegh nistam

by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on

We can argue this point until we both turn blue in the face but I am not going to change my mind. I am too set in my ways and so are you. :o)

Solh va Doosti



I am afriad you are not even looking

by Mehdi on

Not only you are not answering, you are not even reading my comments. It isn't the abuse of psychology and psychiatry that is bad it IS these two that are bad. Read the comments again. I am not talking about a mistake here and there. I am talking about the WHOLESALE disaster that is established based on psychology and psyhiatry.

Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez


by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on

I do realize that we need to look at the macro and micro of economics to gain a good sense of the socioeconomic issues affecting the North American society and educational system.

I agree that education seems to be getting worse in some areas more than others. I believe it was 2001 when the No Child Left Behind Act was passed to try to improve the educational needs of students. It is just one of many efforts from the government to try and improve things.

There is also a lot of disagreement on how money is distributed or redistributed among school districts by the government.

You are also correct in that there are certain schools that out perform schools with more financial resources. Those are the schools that need to be used as models for other schools to follow. They may not be able to implement all of what the successful schools are doing but they can implement as much as possible for the benefit of their students.

What concerns me as an educator and parent, when I hear of financial cut backs in education is  whether it will cause over crowding in the classes. Even you must agree that it  is not a good classroom environment for students. Especially, for students that have special needs.

 The bottom line, should really be "What is in the best interest of the student(s)"?

Solh va Doosti (paz a vosotros)

Nadia (AKA)

Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez


by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on

I don't have a degree in psychology though I have enough hours in psychology to have a minor in psychology. I am also considering a graduate program in educational psychology.

You and I see psychology from very different points of view. You see it as something evil. I see it in a more balanced way. I know that Psychology just like any other thing, like for example religion or politics can be taken to the extreme in a very negative and harmful way for people.

Anything can be used in a negative way against humanity, Mehdi. It is like saying since engineering help create the crane and it is used to hang people from it then all engineering or mechanical technology is evil.

Solh va Doosti (paz a vosotros)

Nadia (AKA)


Education cut back

by Mehdi on

You need to look at the big picture. Practically all of our
government policies are currently written based on psychology. The justice
system is based on psychology and its view of humanity. The so called “correctional
facilities” that do anything but correction are entirely based on KNOWN failed
psychology theories. The problem with educational system may be partly due to
funding but that is not a proven fact. For example, there are schools with much
less than average funding but they perform far better than average schools. But
the more important issue is that the government constantly finds itself in a
position where it needs to take the money and put it someplace else. And who
ultimately decided where the money should go?



by Mehdi on

Well you are not answering the points that I raised. You just came up with new points. Please note that I am not trying to criticize you here. I am just pointing out that you rely on this vague thing called modern psychology which I'd like to bring to your attention that this thing is full of holes, if not outright destructive.

The new points you are making would be valid ONLY if psychology and psychiatry were not AUTHORITY. If they were dealt with as some kind of option in one corner, you'd be correct. But that is not the case. They absolutely BAR anything else. They have a God given power. They don't need to explain themselves. They can point to you and I and say, "insane!" NOBODY could argue. In fact right now, if your neighbor was a psychologist, heck even a social worker, and didn't like you, he could call the POLICE and get them to take you by FORCE into an asylum for a "two-week" observation, during which time they could pump your full of poisons to a point where you would in fact be insane! NOTHING can stop them.

Please answer some of my points if you are interested in a discussion and not just support this thing simply because you have a degree in that. These are SERIOUS accusations I am making. It should be VERY easy to disprove if they were false.

Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez

Let us begin shall we........

by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on

You wrote that education and sociology are infested with modern psychology. Hello! They are intertwined.

Are you sure that I am the one that needs to set my prejudices aside about education, sociology and psychology?

To improve the ills of this world, one needs to take a holistic approach. Not one single area will resolve all the issues. Humans and society are complex.

You live in California, Right? What is your opinion on the cuts in funding for education? Many teachers have received pink slips.

I look forward to your response.......


Solh va Doosti (paz a vosotros)

Nadia (AKA)


Well, you be the judge

by Mehdi on

The "educational" system and even the so-called sociology is heavily infested with what is losely called 'modern psychology." And guess what? They are both extreme failures! Currently, the educational system is going backwards at an alarming rate and the psychologist's explanation? Not enough money! That's their excuse since they started. But the facts say otherwise; the fact is that the more money is poured into this psychology based system the worse it gets and the more excuses are given! There are better systems around but because these boys and girls are self-proclaimed "experts" even though they know jack about human and what he is made of, these better systems are never allowed in.

Psychology and its worst form psychiatry have the most expensive lobbying system in the US. Their "bible" is the DSM (Diagnostics Statistical manual). There are hundreds of mental disorders and "illnesses" listed in there - officialy. Do you know that EVERY SINGLE ONE is VOTED in as an illness or disorder? There is NO scientific basis for ANY of it! This is something you never hear about on a university campus. Somebody is paying a lot of money to make sure of that. Do you know that the phrase "mental illness" or "mental disorder" has NEVER been universally defined? Take a walk through Barnes and Nobles and pick ANY psychology or psychiatry book that you want. Almost all will tell you openly that they have NO IDEA what mental illness is. But they then immediately go on to the "categories of mental illness!" Just stop believing in it because they told you it is authority and ask yourself if it makes any sense to you. Keep in mind that the word psychology itself has never been universally defined, so anything can be mixed in it or taken out if they feel like it - because nobody knows what precisely psychology is!

Just do a Google os "anti psychology" and review a few pages and put your prejudice about it aside and see if there is anything valuable those guys say.

There is a valid "concept" that you and everyone else has, which psychology and sociology, etc "shuld" be. Your interest in understanding humans and societies is not the problem. What I am saying is that what you think is sociology is simply a set of confused and often dangerous opinions and ideas that have been pushed into place by money and power. Today's psychologists are yesterdays priests and mullah, is you study carefully. They also say that they "divinely" know things (which they cannot explain to a "lay" person) - just like the priest and mullah said (or say). To explain, currently there is no "objective" test for insanity or mental problems - it is only "expert" opinion. What the hell does that mean? Nothing! It means the psychologist has "divine" knowledge and we must obey his words because the government and their guns tell us that they are the authority and that's all!

Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez

Mehdi....too late..........

by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on

I just love studying about psychology, education and sociology.  Now, are you going to also tell me that there is something wrong with the educational and sociological theories?

Solh va Doosti (paz a vosotros)

Nadia (AKA)


Psychology is not a science

by Mehdi on

Dear Natalia,

If you want to learn something about humanity, stay away from "modern psychology." It is not a science. It is a collection of ideas and opinions pushed into society through connections and marketing tactics. Their basic theories are false. Example: mankind is not an animal that needs to be controled and managed (by psychologists and psychiatrists). This is a false assumption and a never proven theory which of course produces a lot of money and power for certain few. Psychology is a house of cards. If you inspect it instead of accepting it simply because it claims authority, you wil find out that there is nothing valuable in it. Yes, you heard me, nothing. Psychology and its brother psychiatry are techniques of CONTROLING people NOT understanding people. Stay away from it if you want to understand life.

Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez

Previous comments.........

by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on



Jamshid, Thank You ..


by Mona 19 on Wed Mar 19, 2008 03:04 PM CDT


...It's my earnest hope that someday I can go back to my beloved Iran and live in peace and harmony with rest of my hamvatan.


Thanks again for being a well wisher, it means a lot to me. Bless you :)

 with loving greetings,Mona




Re: Mona  

by jamshid on Wed Mar 19, 2008 02:40 PM CDT


I do not reject your core principles as far as values are concerned, I feel you have a kind heart and your are a blessing to this world. I only disagree with your beliefs in the realm of religion and idealism.


I do agree with you that parents can have a great role in ingraining tolerance in their children. But for each such parent, there is always another that does the opposite.


Many religions have come and tried to change this, but it has not worked. I sincerely believe that even if we choose the right path, there will always be one that chooses the path of evil. We'll never be able to bring a utopia to this world, only a balance. And that is good enough reason.


Sometimes the balance shifts, for example in Iran it has shifted towards many evils that we both know about. I always asked myself why did this happen to me and my generation? Then later in life I realized that perhaps it is only the members of MY generation that could have the courage and strength to defeat this evil, and hence were chosen for this task, instead of other generations. So I stopped complaining.


There will always be a struggle. The utopia you wish will never happen. This is the very nature of existence.


P.S. Happy Norooz to you and your family as well. I wish you all the best in the coming year. I hope you and other Bahais can one day celebrate Norooz in Iran with happiness in your hearts and in complete security.



by Mona 19 on Wed Mar 19, 2008 09:25 AM CDT


I always appreciate your Frank and Honest comment. You always respectfully rejecting my principle(s).Bless you for being polite and kind =)

But don't you think " parents " can teach their children to appreciate and welcome differences. You and I are totally opposite but it's possible to live peacefully as neighbor!!! I always praise my parents especially my mom who taught me to love everyone no matter who they are and what they believe. I remember I was 9-10 yrs old and we lived in a Armenian neighborhood and at that time all the minorities if they had food shop, they had to put a sticker on their window to show they're minorities...very sad...but my mom always go to their store and buy from them and she was always saying it's nonsense that they are najes and we are clean..they have good qualities and they are kind... I still believe it's possible to have unity in diversity...unity without uniformity.

 Any way Jamshid, Wishing you and your loved ones Happiness, Health, Prosperity, Joy,..Happy Nawrouz.
respectfully, Mona :)


by Nadias on Tue Mar 18, 2008 08:13 PM CDT


I do believe in genetic predispositions when it comes to illnesses but not when it comes to prejudice. I think that prejudice is socialized.


 Children learn from observation as they are modeled inappropriate behaviors by others. Sometimes children are directly taught these prejudices. Klux Klax Klan comes to mind as an example of how a group can teach their children to hate others.


Solh va Doosti (paz a vosotros)






by jamshid on Tue Mar 18, 2008 07:32 PM CDT


I definitely beleive that we are not born tabula rasa. There are many genetic dispositions that come into play later in our lives.


Jamshid.....yes I have....  

by Nadias on Tue Mar 18, 2008 07:28 PM CDT


I know that it is because of the socialization throughout my life structure. I on the other hand believe more on the tabula rasa view.


It is so ingrained into us by our family, friends, religion,  culture that it is at the very core of who we are.


So, you believe then that humans have innate views and behaviors that are difficult for humans to overcome? You don't believe that we are born a tabula rasa?  Interesting......


Solh va Doosti (paz a vosotros)



PS: I am hopeful that more humans can overcome as many biast views as possible. Never give up on the dream.  :o) Omid hast


Re: Nadia  

by jamshid on Tue Mar 18, 2008 05:04 PM CDT


Natalia: This was a good comprehensive analysis. However, I think there is one item missing in your list.


I think prejudice is also based on genetic programming of humans. Many revert to it on a sub-conscious level, as though their genetic coding is commanding them to "preserve" their genes.


I think much of what we do or think is based on our genetic pre-programming on one hand, and our social pre-programming as a child on the other hand..


As a matter of fact, I see life as a struggle to overcome and defeat some of these pre-programmings. Have you had a situation where you know what is the right thing to do, and yet you have to fight internally to actually do it? Have you asked why is it that way?


Re: Mona  

by jamshid on Tue Mar 18, 2008 04:59 PM CDT


"if we respect and love our fellow man, and do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought, seperate us."


Unfortunately, this is just a dream. It is like asking ants to be selfish and independent, or asking lions to be kind to deers, of flies to be like bees.


It's in the genetic construct of human beings to do have a tendency to the opposite of what you propose. Some can overcome this, some can't.


Wow! Shae'r you read my mind :o)  

by Nadias on Mon Mar 17, 2008 02:25 AM CDT


I had written the information down because I was going to order it through


Thanks! You just made my day. I also, plan on ordering the book that Mona recommended The Family Virtues Guide by Linda Kavelin Popov.


 I want to read these books to my son. I usually read some self improvement books to my son and then we have an interesting discussion on the subject matter. It is a way of reinforcing what we learned and try to implement some of the changes in our lives.


I am trying to teach my son self behavior modification.:o)


Dear Nadia  

by Shaer on Mon Mar 17, 2008 01:56 AM CDT


I Checked to See If The Material  That I Mentioned Below Are still Available ..


The book Should Be available At Most Barnes & Noble or Borders Bookstores ..


This is the book on "":




The Tapes (or DVD's) are only available  on John Bradshaw's Official Website:




I Believe That You Should Be Able to Check Out The Tapes (or DVD's) From Most Public or University Libraries ..


Enjoy .. :)


Thank you so much...Mona  

by Nadias on Mon Mar 17, 2008 01:05 AM CDT


I always look forward to your kind and words of wisdom. :o)


Solh va Doosti (paz a vosotros)




Dear Nadia, Thank you :)  

by Mona 19 on Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:43 PM CDT


I belive to eliminate any kind of prejudice we need to consort with all the people of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness. Unity in Diversity is possible, if we respect and love our fellow man, and do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought, seperate us.


Alegria y paz,Mona :)


P.S. Thanks again, and keep up the GREAT work.


Thank you Shae'r..  

by Nadias on Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:08 PM CDT


very interesting information. Yes, you are correct there is always some sort of dysfunction in the majority of families. It is also true that the cycle of dsyfunction and toxicness must be broken for future generations to be able to reach their potential.


Solh va Doosti (paz a vosotros)




Dear Nadia  

by Shaer on Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:03 PM CDT


First, let Me Thank You For This "Informative" Article ..


Secondly, I want to Share With You Something That You May find Interesting:


Back In The 1980's, There Was A Series Of Lectures By A Chap Named "John Bradshaw" on PBS ..


This series was Based On The Concept That whenever We want To deal With Either "Psychological" or "Emotional" Problems Of A Memeber Of A Family, That The whole family Should Be Considered As "Sick" ..


This Concept Was Known Back Then As The "Systems Theory" Of The Family ..


It Dealt with Issues Such As "Internalized" Shame, Abandonment, Dysfunctions within a family, etc, ..


This Series Had a Companion Book Called "Bradshaw: On The Family" ..


It Was A "Wonderful" and easy To Read Book, and It expanded On The Topics That were Covered In The Series  ..


I want You To Know That I Found Both The The Series and The Book Extremely Helpful ..


As You Know, many Of Us Grew Up In Families With One Form Of Dysfunction Or Another ..


Unless The "Cycles" Of Such "Dysfunctions" Are Broken, That They Are Passed Along To The Next Generation, and So On ..


I Found Out That Unless Such Issues Are Effectively Dealt With, That They Would Act As "Obstacles" In Preventing The Development Of One's True Potential ..


At The End Of The Day, Issues Such As "Prejudice" and Other "Negative" Traits Are The Result Of A Person Being Less Than "Whole" ..


Please Keep Up Your Good Work .. :)


Prejudice is manifestation of Selfishness;  

by LostIdentity (not verified) on Sun Mar 16, 2008 08:00 PM CDT


And, it can manifest itself at personal, tribal, social, national levels whicj are called "The Carrier". It's a desease and it should be dealt as such. The cure is implementation of "Justice".


Prejudice starts forming when "the carrier" assumes certain Rights to itself. These Rights of curse sound very rational to the carrire and it is not seen to defy or contradict other's Rights.

The mechanism of formation, spread and containment can only be understood in light of an analogous natural echo system. I think it greatly helps to understad how to deal with it if we parallel this desease with a naturally occuring desease in in an echo system through behavioral modeling.


To me, if one (The Carrier) removes concept of
justice from it's rational, existence of prejudice (among other inhumane phenomenon) can be justified. As a matter of fact, the terminology is no more "prejudice" but it takes a more positive face and may be called "Interest". Let me give you an example. Corner-stone of corporations are base of the motto: "The strong is just". If I'm strong, rich and powerful, I can determine and pass laws in the interest of getting stronger. We can sacrifice, for example, global clean air policy for the sake of financal and economy growth.