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Word of the Day: Prejudice

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by Danna Martínez

Is prejudice destructive or a defense mode? The prejudice level can change as well as the impact it has on our behavior.

Prejudice is an opinion about someone or something based on non-certain information.

The assumption or guess of someone’s way to be is a prejudice. In most cases, people make prejudice by relating a person to a particular group. For example, people used to create bias in areas like ethnicity, gender, or religion.

A person who has an unjustified attitude towards another person can be developing a prejudice. 

When we see someone we’ve known for years, our imagination can predict how the person will act; and it will probably be correct because we already know the person. So when we recognize a person, we feel secure. But when we meet a person we haven’t related to yet, our imagination makes all different speculations. 

As long as we don’t have enough knowledge of a person, we can’t establish a memory scheme about being with them. Therefore, we will naturally experience a fear feeling. Prejudice comes when we feel insecure about someone. We start thinking and relating people with circumstances or past experiences. Mostly all the relations are hostile.

In multiple cases, people develop their prejudices based on bad experiences. On the other hand, people can make bias by not having sufficient knowledge about someone. Nevertheless, premature judgment is not the real problem. The real problem is that prejudice can lead to actions like bullying or discrimination. Throughout history, society has marked an extensive list of biases. In some way, prejudices are ingrained in a culture of hundreds of years. However, the opinion about someone or something can change.

For some characters, it is harder to retract their judgments. There are occasions where the individual cannot control the unjustified opinion against someone or something. Then, we have to realize if we have a prejudice problem or just don’t like something and don’t get along with someone. On the other side, some people can regulate their feelings against another person at the time they get to know each other. In this way, the prejudiced person has the likelihood to change their mind and create a new and updated memory scheme.

There are all kinds of prejudices, and all the people have at least some of them. Here is a test of the Learning for Justice Organization to test yourself for hidden bias – https://www.learningforjustice.org/professional-development/test-yourself-for-hidden-bias.

On many occasions, biases work as a defense or as an instinct. When we feel something can be dangerous for us, we avoid it; Our intuition can be wrong or correct. Nevertheless, when we let our speculations control our behavior, prejudice can become destructive. Furthermore, it won’t be a simple opinion; it will hurt other people.

As well as we can hurt people, people can hurt us. For example, having a non-reason negative attitude towards someone can cause self-esteem suffering. 

“Before you act, listen. Before you react, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try.” –Earnest Hemingway.

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