Causes of prejudices and stereotypical thinking

Where do prejudices come from? We think it’s a combination of several causes:

  • Until fairly recently (around 12 thousand years ago) we lived in groups of up to 100 people where we knew everyone else. Our brain hasn’t gotten used to interacting with large groups of individuals yet, so it needs a way to simplify certain situations. This is where prejudices, stereotypes, and labels come into play.
  • Many prejudices and ideas about people are directly taken from our parents or from our friends. Gossiping is another source of prejudice against individuals.
  • Both media and modern social issues bring prejudices with them, politicians often like to use them too. Our experiences in certain situations with someone specific can also be transformed into new prejudices. Someone else later reminds us, be is subconsciously or not, of that situation and our brain pulls out the past experiences and deals with the new person based on experience with the previous one.
  • Labels, stereotypes, and prejudices typically make the world simpler and divide it into “US” and “THEM”. “WE” are usually the good ones, righteous, hard working. “THEY” are bad, ill-mannered, lazy. For someone, this type of thinking might raise their own low self-esteem. It is by far more pleasant and easier way of thinking, than to critically assess things about and around you from many different points of view. There are definitely more causes to prejudices, than the ones listed here. Let us know down in the comments if you think of another one.

There are definitely more causes to prejudices, than the ones listed here. Let us know down in the comments if you think of another one.

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