Prejudice and discrimination are the reliance on preconceived notions when making judgments about others. All decisions a person makes are subject to their own biases, with some people being more obviously biased than others. Prejudice and discrimination may be based on race, ethnicity, religion, or any number of other predetermined characteristics.
- A company does not hire an applicant because of their race
- A police officer assumes a person is guilty because of their ethnicity
- A supervisor does not promote a person because of their disability
- A homeless person is suspected of a crime because of their appearance
- A family does not go to a restaurant because it is owned by people of a certain faith
In-group bias is the tendency to have positive associations about people with whom we identify and negative associations with others. Unfair treatment is reserved for those we deem different from ourselves and more favorable treatment is given to those we deem similar to ourselves. Self-fulfilling prophecies occur when a person looks for proof of their preconceived notions. A person who is prejudiced against a certain group may therefore look for experiences that support this prejudice and reinforce their beliefs. Those who are victims of prejudice may also internalize negative view of their group and therefore act out those negative associations and become the person they are believed to be.
It is unlikely for a prejudiced person to seek treatment for their views. They may never realize that their ideas are not based on evidence and live their whole lives stereotyping others. Those who are victims of this stereotyping can benefit from therapy as they uncover internalization and work to change a negative self-image.