Prejudice comes from the term ‘to pre-judge’. In other words, it means that you are making judgments about people before you really get to know them.
Usually, prejudice is based on stereotypes and generalizations we have about groups of people (see: outgroup homogeneity effect). For example, we can irrationally think negative thoughts about someone based on their age, race, gender, or social class.
It can lead to unfair discrimination against people, leading to the perpetuation of disadvantage and suffering, particularly for minority groups.
Examples of Prejudice
1. Non-Anglo Names on Job Applications
Studies have found that job applicants with non-Anglo-sounding names are less likely to be called in for interviews than those with Anglo names.
One study called “Why Do Some Employers Prefer to Interview Matthew, but Not Samir?” found that people with Anglo-sounding names are 35 percent more likely to receive callbacks for interviews.
The study showed the data to several employers who hypothesized that assumptions about language skills and social skills were at the core of this phenomenon.
These prejudices may go some way toward explaining the troubles many migrants have in getting well-paid secure jobs despite being highly qualified. However, it also helps shed light on the discrimination that occurs against non-Anglo people who have lived in the USA, UK, Canada, and other Anglo-majority nations for generations.
Related Article: 10 Ignorance Examples
2. Racial Profiling
Racial profiling disproportionately targets people of color based upon their race alone rather than any other characteristics or behaviors.
In schools, this can manifest as zero-tolerance policies that disproportionately punish minority students, or tracking systems that place students of color in lower-level classes (dubbed by George W Bush as the ‘soft bigotry of low expectation‘).
Minority students are also more likely to be suspended or expelled from school, and they often receive inferior educational opportunities.
In healthcare, racial profiling can take the form of under-diagnosis or misdiagnosis of conditions like sickle cell anemia, as well as disparate treatment in pain management. This often occurs when healthcare professionals dismiss people of color as hysterical or overly complaining, due to stereotypical assumptions.
3. Accent Prejudice
People with accents often face discrimination in the workplace and in social settings. This is especially true for those who speak English as a second language, but it can also affect people who have regional accents from within the same country.
Accent prejudice can manifest as workplace discrimination, where people with accents are passed over for promotions or job opportunities or are assumed to be less competent than their colleagues.
In social settings, people with accents may be treated with suspicion or mistrust and may find it harder to make friends. They are seen as not sharing the same upbringing as the dominant group and, therefore, their values and beliefs are seen as potentially suspect.
4. Police Profiling
Police profiling is the controversial practice of targeting individuals for police stop and search, or other enforcement action, based on their race or skin color. There is a long history of people of color being targeted by police for heightened surveillance or investigation simply based on their skin color.
This type of discrimination results in the overrepresentation of people of color in the criminal justice system, as well as lower rates of trust and cooperation between police and minority communities.
Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Sandra Bland are just a few examples of people of color who are believed to have lost their lives as a result of racial profiling.
5. Housing Discrimination
Housing discrimination is the practice of denying people access to housing, or limiting their housing options, based on their race or ethnicity.
This type of discrimination can take the form of landlords refusing to rent to people of color, to real estate agents steering homebuyers away from certain neighborhoods.
The United States has a long history of housing discrimination. In fact, it is believed to be the cause of the racial wealth gap in the country, as generations of families have been denied the opportunity to build equity in their homes.
Cities that have suffered from significant historical housing discrimination include Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis. To this day, these cities still have some highly segregated suburbs as a hangover effect of historical discriminatory laws.
6. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
In North America, Indigenous communities have long complained about the lack of police interest in investigating instances where Indigenous women go missing.
Police cases often close with little public interest and, supposedly, insufficient police investigation. Police are said to have closed many cases before leads have run cold or without further inquiry due to just how common it is for Indigenous women to go missing.
Advocates contrast this with the ‘missing white woman syndrome’ where young white women who go missing garner serious public and media interest. This often spurs police interest and encourages them to make much more thorough investigations.
7. Judicial Prejudice
Judicial prejudice refers to a judge’s bias for or against a particular party or type of case. This can be based on the judge’s personal beliefs, prejudices, or experiences.
Judicial prejudice can result in an unfair trial, and it may be difficult to detect.
If a person suspects that a judge is biased, they may be able to ask for a change of venue or for the judge to be removed from the case. However, it’s believed that judicial prejudice against minorities is rife because of the overrepresentation of privileged white people in the judiciary.
8. Jury Prejudice
Jury prejudice is a real and serious problem in the American legal system. It occurs when jurors allow their personal biases to influence their decision-making in a court case.
This can happen when jurors have preconceptions about the guilt or innocence of the defendant, or when they harbor personal prejudices against the victim or witnesses in the case.
Jury prejudice can also occur when jurors are influenced by media coverage of the case, or when they have been personally affected by crime. Sometimes, this even leads to mistrial, and the trial needs to start again with a new jury.
Jury prejudice can lead to wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice. To combat this problem, courts have implemented a number of measures, including pre-trial screening of jurors and extensive instructions on impartiality. However, even with these measures in place, jury prejudice remains a very real concern in the American legal system.
9. Women’s Promotions
Following the rise of the affirmative action movement in the 1990s to now, many women and people of color feel overly scrutinized after they have received a promotion.
The prejudice here is that some people automatically think a woman got a promotion based on her gender rather than her talents.
This is prejudice because people pre-judge the woman before they have gotten to know her skills and talents that may have been the reason she got the job.
Ironically, the overrepresentation of men in many fields has been because men have gotten promotions for being men. Affirmative action simply attempts to reverse that trend.
Xenophobia is a fear or dislike of people from other countries. It can lead to discrimination and even violence.
Xenophobia can have many different causes. Some people may be afraid of people from other countries because they are different. Others may believe that people from other countries are taking jobs away from them or that they are a threat to their way of life.
It can have negative effects on both individuals and society as a whole. Individuals who experience xenophobia may suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. They may also have difficulty forming relationships and achieving their goals.
Xenophobia can also lead to social divides and conflict, making it more difficult for different groups to work together.
Classism refers to prejudice against people based upon their social class. Different social classes have different cultures and attributes that can set them apart and, therefore, make them vulnerable to prejudice.
For example, in the UK, accents and language can reveal a person’s social class. Similarly, working-class people tend to dress in blue-collar work uniforms while upper-class people tend to dress in white-collar work uniforms.
Classism might lead a retail agent to think you’re unlikely to purchase something expensive in a store (so they ignore you), an employer not to employ you due to your speech intonation, or even government service providers to be more condescending.
12. Religious Prejudice
Religious prejudice is when someone has a negative attitude or feelings towards another person or group because of their religious beliefs.
It can manifest as outright hostility, but it can also be more subtle, such as avoiding contact or making assumptions about someone’s character based on their religion. Religious prejudice is often the result of ignorance or a lack of understanding.
For example, someone may be prejudiced against Muslims because they have never met someone who practices Islam and they only know what they’ve seen in the media. Or, someone may be prejudiced against Christians because they grew up hearing negative stereotypes about them.
Religious prejudice was particularly strong in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, a period of time when protestants and Catholics faced-off in severe and often violent hostility. One of the many causes of the religious hostilities was the divided society where protestants and Catholics tended to go to different schools and associate in different groups.
13. Gender Prejudice
Gender prejudice is when people are treated unfairly because of their gender. For example, women may be paid less than men for doing the same job, or they may be passed over for promotions because their boss assumes they will get married and have children.
There remains statistical evidence that women are paid less than men. However, some scholars have also highlighted that this top-line data needs to be explored in more detail to show the full picture. For example, a UK study found that women doing the same work as men earn only 1% less, which indicates that the biggest problem is in fact the glass ceiling, which prevents women from getting promotions in the first.
Men can also be victims of gender prejudice, especially if they are stay-at-home dads or want to take paternity leave. Similarly, men who choose to work in feminized professions such as childcare, they’re often seen with suspicion.
Related: Gender Stereotypes Examples
14. Ethic Prejudice
Most countries have many different ethnic groups within them with varying degrees of prejudice across ethnic groups.
Examples of ethnicities include:
- The Tamils and Sinhalese, who share the island of Sri Lanka
- The Bamar, Shan, Karen, Rakhine and Rohingya in Myanmar
Often, ethnic prejudice in countries leads to discrimination against, or even the oppression of, minority ethnic groups in a country.
For example, a person of a minority ethnic group may find it harder to find employment or be ignored when provided services. In worse situations, prejudice can lead to serious structural discrimination and oppression. For example, in Myanmar, the Rohingya minority group has been the subject of genocide from the Myanmar military, leading most to flee to Bangladesh.
15. Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias occurs when someone has a deep-down prejudice that affects their behaviors without them knowing it.
These people don’t actively have negative thoughts about a person or group of people. They also don’t intend to harbor prejudices.
And most people don’t want to have unconscious biases against others.
As a result, unconscious bias is something that demands people’s ongoing self-reflection. It’s also a key reason why HR firms try to hire based on clear criteria and sets of facts rather than ‘gut feelings’ about an interviewee.
Ageism refers to assumptions people make about a person based upon their age. It can occur in both positive and negative ways.
For example, positive ageism would be assuming that an older person is wise and experienced, while negative ageism would be assuming that an older person is senile or incompetent.
Ageism can also affect younger people, who are passed up for jobs not for their skills and knowledge, but because they are young. Young people are often assumed to be naive or lacking in life experience. While this can be true, it may also be true that a young person is very experienced in their field. By prejudging a person based on age, you don’t get a chance to truly get to know them.
17. Stereotype Beliefs
A cultural stereotype is a fixed, oversimplified idea or image of a particular type of person or thing.
We often use stereotypes when we don’t really know much about the person or thing in question, and we’re looking for an easy way to group them with others.
For example, we might stereotype all doctors as being intelligent and successful, or all teenagers as being moody and rebellious. While there may be some truth to these stereotypes, they’re not accurate representations of everyone in those groups.
When we rely on stereotypes to make a judgment about someone, we are engaging in prejudicial behavior. This ignores important individual differences between people.
Prejudice vs Bias vs Discrimination
- Prejudice means to pre-judge, or develop an opinion before having the facts. Bias is synonymous with prejudice: it means to have an inclination for or against something or someone.
- Discrimination is the action that results from prejudice. Whereas prejudice is a thought, discrimination is an action. A person can be prejudiced (have irrational negative throughs about someone) but catch themselves and hold back from acting upon their prejudice, meaning they are prejudiced but not discriminatory.
Prejudice can have a strong impact on how people think and behave. It is often expressed in feelings of anger, fear, and hatred. It can lead to discrimination.
Prejudice is an unjustified negative belief held about a particular group of people. It can be based on race, gender, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic.
Prejudice leads to discrimination, which is the action that results from prejudice. Discrimination can be overt or subtle, and it can have a negative impact on the victim’s social, economic, and psychological well-being.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.