CHAPTER 6: EXPERIENCING PREJUDICE
Prejudice originated and was maintained within the majority perceiver of the
It is a fairly intuitive notion to think that if a perceiver holds prejudice
toward a target, and if we want to understand the processes that lead to the
formation, maintenance, and reduction of that prejudice, we need to
understand more about that perceiver.
Stereotyping and prejudice are not processes that involve a perceiver
regarding an inactive target of stereotyping.
Rather, stereotyping and prejudice occur in a dynamic social context
involving the perceiver and target reacting to each other.
It is a two way street, involving feedback from the target and often confirms
the expectations of the perceiver, with the perceiver’s behaviour often then
confirming the expectations of the target.
Think of being different as a child, how did people perceive you? Negatively?
This is why so many people try to fit in with the majority: so they will not be
singled out for ridicule or treated negatively by others.
Such treatment is fairly overly among children, who, not having learned
socially sophisticated methods of expressing disapproval, will have no
compunction about telling everyone and the individual in question about the
target’s deficiencies (sometimes entailing laughter, cruel jokes an/or
Among adults, those negative evaluations may take the form of subtle
negative comments, rude behaviour, or other subtle expressions of
Noted sociologist Erving Goffman referred to the unusual characteristics that
engender negative evaluations as being indicators of stigma. The
stigmatized person is one who is “reduced in our minds from a whole and
usual person to a tainted, discounted one”
Stigmas are characteristics that mark the individual as “deviant, flawed,
limited, spoiled or generally undesirable”
The reader will note that stigma encompasses all the more familiar situations
where prejudice is shown (i.e. racial, religious, gender, age, sexual