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The definition of Discrimination, its the most common forms, and fundamental notions associated with it

Discrimination is a type of prejudiced conduct that occurs when people act on their biases towards a group of people. Because of one’s membership in a specific group, an individual may be subjected to discrimination (Allport, 1954; Dovidio & Gaertner, 2004). Prejudice is a result of unfavorable stereotypes and negative attitudes (prejudice) held about a certain group, and people typically treat the subject of discrimination harshly, such as excluding older persons from their social circle. As a term of endearment, discrimination refers to a person or persons acting or behaving differently (most typically, unfairly, and humiliatingly) toward others based on their social group affiliation (Whitley & Kite, 2009). Nonverbal and verbal discrimination can manifest themselves in a variety of ways and in a variety of settings.

The most common forms of discrimination include obscene gestures or threats, exclusion, racial nickname calling, threats, angry communications, cyberbullying, obscene gestures or physical attacks. Discrimination, irrespective of how it develops, causes individuals victimized to feel alone, unwanted, and disregarded, as well as to face penalties, intimidation, vilification, and even violence.

In both classical and operant conditioning, the term “discrimination” is utilized. It’s about being able to tell the difference between one stimulus and another. If you only respond to particular stimuli, you won’t respond to other stimuli that are comparable. Discernment in classical conditioning refers to the ability to distinguish between a conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimuli. If a bell tone were the conditioned stimulus, discriminating would be the ability to identify the difference between the bell sound and other sounds that sound similar to the bell tone. A previously neutral stimulus, like a sound, is paired with a previously conditioned stimulus (UCS). The unconditioned stimulus is something that occurs naturally and automatically and which causes a reaction to be triggered. Salivating when food is smelled is an unconditioned response, as is the smell itself. The conditioned response (CR) can be elicited even when the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) is not present because of an association between the unconditioned response (UCS) and the previously neutral stimulus (CS).

Scientific Experiment

Experiments conducted by Ivan Pavlov in which food was presented in conjunction with a tone (a neutral stimulus that became a conditional stimulus) resulted in an automatic salivary response (unconditioned response). The dogs would eventually salivate in reaction to the sound of the tone on its own, eventually (a conditioned response to a conditioned stimulus). Now, assume if Pavlov had used a new sound in his study. Let’s assume that he played the trumpet instead of producing the tone. What may happen if I did this? Assuming that the dogs did not drool in response to a trumpet sound, this indicates that they can distinguish between the sound of the tone and other stimuli that like it. A conditioned reaction can only be elicited by a specific type of noise. Only a certain sound can elicit a conditioned response because of the ability of the brain to discriminate between different stimuli.

Dogs were trained to salivate in response to the sight of circles in a well-known experiment on classical conditioning in which the taste of meat was associated with the sight of a circle. The dogs, on the other hand, salivated when they saw an ellipse, which is an oval form, according to the researchers. After a few trials, the dogs were able to tell the difference between the ellipse and meat after a few more trials where they didn’t taste flesh upon seeing it. However, they would drool in reaction to seeing the ellipse.

Despite the fact that we have many similarities, we also have a lot in common, which makes us all unique. Our identities are shaped by the social groupings to which we belong. As a result, some people may develop an attitude of intolerance toward those who are different. Negative feelings and attitudes toward an individual based purely on their social group membership are known as prejudice (Allport, 1954; Brown, 2010). Prejudice is frequently leveled against those who belong to a different cultural background. Prejudice can be reduced through engaging in particular sorts of educational activities, interactions, and forming relationships with people from other cultural backgrounds. The mere thought of engaging with people from other cultural backgrounds may have a negative impact on one’s prejudice. When participants were asked to anticipate engaging positively with someone from a different group, this led to an increase in positive attitudes toward the other group and an increase in good characteristics associated with the other group. Furthermore, the anxiety that comes with social interactions between groups can be reduced by the use of fictitious social engagement. What are some of the social groups that you are a part of that help shape your sense of self? Gender, color, nationality, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, faith, sexual preference, and a host of other factors all fall under the umbrella of social groupings. Similarly, you can be a member of multiple social groups at the same time, as is the case with social roles. Prejudice can be seen in attitudes toward those who were not born in the United States. Prejudiced people, even when they don’t know all non-Americans, despise them because of their identity as immigrants.

People often acquire prejudice based on a stereotype, which is a negative belief about an individual’s membership in the group, without regard to any other personal traits. Stereotypes are applied to all members of a group when they are overgeneralized. Someone with biased views on older people, for instance, may assume that elderly folks are slow and incapable. We don’t know enough about elderly people to conclude that they’re all sluggish and incompetent. Consequently, this negative belief is a generalization to all group members, despite the reality that many of the individual members of the group are active and intelligent. Another well-known prejudice is that sportsmen of different racial backgrounds have different abilities. Black male athletes are frequently regarded as more athletic but less cerebral than their white colleagues, according to Hodge, Robinson, Burden and Bennett (2008). Despite numerous well-publicized examples to the contrary, these ideas persist among many people. Though it’s unfortunate, this kind of thinking can have an impact on athletes’ treatment by others and how they perceive themselves and their talents. Even if you don’t disagree with a stereotype, it’s common knowledge in a specific community.

Real-Life Example

There was a myriad of issues on the topic of multiculturism and most of them are related to the issue of racism. The issue has been around for years and I realized that the media and the public has been focusing on one side of the story. There are many minority groups in America that are undergoing numerous challenges but the primary target has been the African American community. One of the articles that intrigued me is titled Paper Tigers and it was written by Wesley Young in 2011. It details the challenges that Asian-Americans have been undergoing in America especially because of stereotyping. The article shifts from a societal to an individual viewpoint where the contributors detail their problems. Just like other American children and teenagers, Asian Americans of this age bracket face the same issues and they have to fight with stereotyping which makes the matter worse (Yang, 2011). The thesis is that Asian youths are unprepared to fight the challenges of real-life although they excelled in school. The study was and the facts presented were accurate and there are numerous independent studies to support this argument.

The information in the article rose my curiosity on the issue because it was clear that stereotyping was detrimental to Asian American youths. The Pew Research Center revealed that the fastest-growing, best-educated, and highest-earning, minority group in the United States are the Asian Americans. Asian Americans are stereotyped as dedicated workers who “follow regulations” and never complain, according to popular belief. The “enemy race” has become a name familiar to Japanese Americans due to their association in World War 2. In the 19th century, the Chinese Americans were known as “coolies” and this name has become popular once more. The stereotype that Korean Americans have a “kimchi temper” has finally been disproved. By the twenty-first century, they had earned a reputation as a “model minority” that is respected — a title that many despise. Through the groups I engaged in I strived to hear and note the stereotypical challenges that everyone had. With the diverse members some of the answers were shocking and awakening to reality.

Angie Thomas’ work titled ‘The Hate U Give’ is also one of those that raised my awareness to all types of prejudice and how it is a manifestation of who you are. Prejudice is almost the classic description of this form of ” generalization inflexible and faulty ” that links a person to the perceived sins of their race. Researchers have shown that people typically judge a group on two aspects: warmth, asking if the other people are honest, and social? and competence, asking if the others are intelligent and capable? after reading a series of articles that examine stereotyping, bias, or discrimination. Older people are stereotyped as inept but warm, white People in the middle class are stereotyped as pleasant and capable, Jews and Asians are seen as frigid but capable, and homeless people are stereotyped as harsh and unintelligent. Persons that are unfriendly are deemed to be more destructive and dangerous to other people who are incompetent and to themselves. It is not uncommon for members of the majority group, who have high degrees of bias, to feel compelled to respond aggressively toward minority group members whom they view as cold and biased. This is usually the case if a group that is a minority is being promoted or portrayed as a threat, as other politicians are portraying Asian Americans as the cause of the Covid-19 outbreak.


Since its establishment in 1908, the field of social psychology has been recognized to have pioneered a new approach to the study of human behavior as it relates to social groupings, combining the macro-sociological and micro-psychological viewpoints (Bar-Tal, 2006). Individual-level behavior began to take precedence over group activity in social psychology in the 1920s, resulting in an intellectual battle between the micro and macro perspectives. Discrimination study investigations have likewise found this to be the case. Traditionally, prejudice was defined as an individual-level quality—”as an unfair negative attitude toward a social group or a person considered to be a member of that group”—in this field (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2006). In the 1930s to early 1950s, many social psychologists embraced a macro-societal perspective, but in the 1960s and ’70s, micro-individualism dominated in social psychology (Bar-Tal, 2006). Following criticism from European social psychologists, American social psychologists have largely abandoned this reductionist approach. As a result of the 1980s’ European ideas of “social identity” and “social categorization,” as well as “social representation” (Moscovici, 1984), there were substantial ramifications in the United States and around the world. There are several ways to explain the phenomenon, but one of them is to look at it from a broader viewpoint that includes communities and cultures, as well as perspectives from different fields.

According to Psychoanalytic Theory, social (e.g., wars and starvation) and individual frustrations lead people to act aggressively toward minorities. It’s possible to think of this as “displacing aggression.” It is argued that prejudice has a motivating and adaptive feature, that people gain their self-esteem through acts of prejudice, and that discriminatory behavior has an adaptive ego-defensive role (Whitley and Kite, 2009). “Ideological Theory” of Glick (2002), and “Scapegoat Theory” of Allport (1954) which took this method to an intergroup level, will be addressed under Section Individual Level Theories on intergroup theories.


There are two fundamental notions associated with discrimination, “prejudice,” and “stereotype,” both of which are closely related. They are commonly used together since they are all connected in some way. Stereotypes, biases, and discrimination can be categorized as cognitive, emotional, and behavioral reactions to the social categorization process (Eagly & Chaiken, 1998). Mass murder such as genocide and other forms of mass murder can be the outcome of human struggle. As a result of prejudice and discrimination, strangers can end up hating one another so much that they end up harming each other. Everyone is a victim of prejudice and discrimination, regardless of their race or ethnicity. Prejudice and discrimination can be defined, and instances and causes of these prejudices will be discussed in this section.


Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Bar-Tal, D. (2006). “Bridging between micro and macro perspectives in social psychology” in Bridging social psychology: Benefits of transdisciplinary approaches. ed. P. A. M. Van Lange (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum), 341–346.

Brown, R. (2000). Social identity theory: past achievements, current problems and future challenges. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 30, 745–778. doi: 10.1002/1099-0992(200011/12)30:6<745::AID-EJSP24>3.0.CO;2-O

Dovidio, J. F., and Gaertner, S. L. (2006). “A multilevel perspective on prejudice: crossing disciplinary boundaries” in Bridging social psychology: Benefits of transdisciplinary approaches. ed. P. A. M. Van Lange (Manwah, NJ: Erlbaum), 385–390.

Eagly, A. H., and Chaiken, S. (1998). “Attitude structure and function” in The handbook of social psychology. eds. D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, and G. Lindzey (Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill), 269–322.

Moscovici, S. (1984). “The phenomenon of social representations” in Social representations. eds. R. Farr and S. Moscovici (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University), 3–69.

Whitley, B. E., and Kite, M. E. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. 2nd Edn. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Yang, W. (2011, May 6). Paper Tigers. New York Magazine.


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