Psychology of Prejudice

Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a day when people of all colours and creeds would be judged as equals. Although we are closer to his dream, we have still not fulfilled it. This seminar will examine why that is by investigating the roots and effects of stereotypes and prejudice. Social categories, for example, are normal and helpful devices that allow perceivers to make quick inferences about group members; however, they also distort our judgment of individual people and lead us to overgeneralize.  

The course will examine discrimination from two distinct points of view: (1) from the people who hold prejudiced beliefs, and (2) from the people who are targets of prejudice. We begin the course by discussing how stereotypes form, why they persist, and why they often operate automatically. We then examine the impact of stereotypes on their targets, including how and when discrimination is perceived, how it affects performance and attributions of blame, and how people cope with it.