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People who are prejudiced feel a much stronger need to make quick and firm judgments and decisions in order to reduce ambiguity. “Of course, everyone has to make decisions, but some people really hate uncertainty and therefore quickly rely on the most obvious information, often the first information they come across, to reduce it” Roets says. That’s also why they favor authorities and social norms which make it easier to make decisions. Then, once they’ve made up their mind, they stick to it. “If you provide information that contradicts their decision, they just ignore it.”

Roets argues that this way of thinking is linked to people’s need to categorize the world, often unconsciously. “When we meet someone, we immediately see that person as being male or female, young or old, black or white, without really being aware of this categorization,” he says. “Social categories are useful to reduce complexity, but the problem is that we also assign some properties to these categories. This can lead to prejudice and stereotyping.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a character’s inner monologue as they meet someone who is different from them in some significant way.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a prejudice you have and where you think it comes from.

Art Prompt: Prejudice
Non-Fiction/Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the effect of prejudice on society.

Photo Credit: Rick Camacho on Flickr

2 Responses to Prompt #299 Why are People Prejudiced?

  1. Robin Hawke says:

    Thanks for sharing Roet’s theory. Helped me understand why prejudice never seems to diminish, even when we all know better.

    I believe fear is also part of the answer. A construction worker I used to know fears job loss. If he didn’t, I believe his language wouldn’t be so despising. He can’t complain about the work, so complains about immigrant status.
    Robin Hawke recently posted..ClearingMy Profile

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