Your View of Others: Recognizing and Eliminating Prejudices

Reviewed Sep 8, 2017

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Summary

  • Subtle prejudices may influence your behavior.
  • Be aware of pre-judgments.
  • Challenge your thinking. 

Prejudice often is associated with the intolerance or hatred of other races, religions, lifestyles, etc. Perhaps you work hard to resist such prejudice, but do you have subtler forms of it in your thoughts? You may benefit from a closer look for hidden prejudice in yourself.

Your mind is wired to judge, form opinions, assess a stimulus as positive or negative, and much more. This is a necessary mental process that helps you function in life. The problem sometimes lies in forming an opinion or judgment based on little evidence. And why is it a problem? Because subtle prejudices may influence your behavior. Hidden prejudice might make you:

  • Avoid befriending someone
  • Act arrogantly or condescendingly
  • Overlook or dismiss someone’s need or pain
  • Say something unkind
  • Unconsciously use body language, voice tone or other subtle behavior that causes someone pain  

Examples of hidden prejudice

You might make a conscious effort to reject any thoughts that seem to be generalizations against a race, religion, etc. Keep up the good work! It’s also important to be aware of subtle pre-judgments that you might make. The examples that follow might prompt you to examine your own beliefs in these and similar scenarios:

  • Deciding that someone whose looks, clothing, accent, educational background, etc. do not appeal to you is not worth getting to know
  • Assuming that a very attractive, intelligent person has an easier or better life than you do
  • Thinking that an obese person is lazy, gluttonous, jolly, etc.
  • Believing that all smokers could quit if they really wanted to
  • Worrying that someone receiving  treatment for depression or anxiety is unstable or a threat to you  

Challenging your thinking

If, after a bit of examining, you discover hidden prejudice in your own thoughts, don’t be too hard on yourself. prejudice is not a fixed personality trait. Prejudice of any kind is an adaptive, lifelong process. You have been bombarded with a lifetime of influence from people, media, and experiences that feed your thoughts even now.

You can counter those influences with fresh new thoughts and habits that challenge your biases. These tips may help:

  • Try to catch yourself judging someone.
  • Ask yourself what proof you have that your judgment is based on truth.
  • Challenge your judgments. Look for evidence that refutes your negative opinion of others.
  • Remind yourself often that you:
    • Might be mistaken in your judgment
    • Cannot read minds
    • Would be upset to think someone is judging you unfairly
  • Broaden your group of friends to include people you previously might have ignored.
  • Remain alert to the influence of subtle stereotyping and other potential seeds of prejudice in TV, books, conversations, etc.  

Some thought habits are so old they just won’t die easily. You actually have little control over thoughts prior to their springing up. But you can challenge the truth of a thought once you are aware of it. 

The bottom line is to bring prejudice out of hiding and into your conscious awareness. Once you recognize it and label it as “prejudice,” you are less likely to hold on to it.

Resources

Overcoming Prejudice by Tara Koellhoffer and Sharon L. Banas. Chelsea House Publishers, 2009.

Teaching Tolerance
www.tolerance.org 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Connor, T. “Definitions and Overview of Prejudice and Discrimination.” North Carolina Wesleyan College; Managing Your Mind by Gillian Butler, PhD and Tony Hope, MD. Oxford University Press, 1995; Tolerance.org

Summary

  • Subtle prejudices may influence your behavior.
  • Be aware of pre-judgments.
  • Challenge your thinking. 

Prejudice often is associated with the intolerance or hatred of other races, religions, lifestyles, etc. Perhaps you work hard to resist such prejudice, but do you have subtler forms of it in your thoughts? You may benefit from a closer look for hidden prejudice in yourself.

Your mind is wired to judge, form opinions, assess a stimulus as positive or negative, and much more. This is a necessary mental process that helps you function in life. The problem sometimes lies in forming an opinion or judgment based on little evidence. And why is it a problem? Because subtle prejudices may influence your behavior. Hidden prejudice might make you:

  • Avoid befriending someone
  • Act arrogantly or condescendingly
  • Overlook or dismiss someone’s need or pain
  • Say something unkind
  • Unconsciously use body language, voice tone or other subtle behavior that causes someone pain  

Examples of hidden prejudice

You might make a conscious effort to reject any thoughts that seem to be generalizations against a race, religion, etc. Keep up the good work! It’s also important to be aware of subtle pre-judgments that you might make. The examples that follow might prompt you to examine your own beliefs in these and similar scenarios:

  • Deciding that someone whose looks, clothing, accent, educational background, etc. do not appeal to you is not worth getting to know
  • Assuming that a very attractive, intelligent person has an easier or better life than you do
  • Thinking that an obese person is lazy, gluttonous, jolly, etc.
  • Believing that all smokers could quit if they really wanted to
  • Worrying that someone receiving  treatment for depression or anxiety is unstable or a threat to you  

Challenging your thinking

If, after a bit of examining, you discover hidden prejudice in your own thoughts, don’t be too hard on yourself. prejudice is not a fixed personality trait. Prejudice of any kind is an adaptive, lifelong process. You have been bombarded with a lifetime of influence from people, media, and experiences that feed your thoughts even now.

You can counter those influences with fresh new thoughts and habits that challenge your biases. These tips may help:

  • Try to catch yourself judging someone.
  • Ask yourself what proof you have that your judgment is based on truth.
  • Challenge your judgments. Look for evidence that refutes your negative opinion of others.
  • Remind yourself often that you:
    • Might be mistaken in your judgment
    • Cannot read minds
    • Would be upset to think someone is judging you unfairly
  • Broaden your group of friends to include people you previously might have ignored.
  • Remain alert to the influence of subtle stereotyping and other potential seeds of prejudice in TV, books, conversations, etc.  

Some thought habits are so old they just won’t die easily. You actually have little control over thoughts prior to their springing up. But you can challenge the truth of a thought once you are aware of it. 

The bottom line is to bring prejudice out of hiding and into your conscious awareness. Once you recognize it and label it as “prejudice,” you are less likely to hold on to it.

Resources

Overcoming Prejudice by Tara Koellhoffer and Sharon L. Banas. Chelsea House Publishers, 2009.

Teaching Tolerance
www.tolerance.org 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Connor, T. “Definitions and Overview of Prejudice and Discrimination.” North Carolina Wesleyan College; Managing Your Mind by Gillian Butler, PhD and Tony Hope, MD. Oxford University Press, 1995; Tolerance.org

Summary

  • Subtle prejudices may influence your behavior.
  • Be aware of pre-judgments.
  • Challenge your thinking. 

Prejudice often is associated with the intolerance or hatred of other races, religions, lifestyles, etc. Perhaps you work hard to resist such prejudice, but do you have subtler forms of it in your thoughts? You may benefit from a closer look for hidden prejudice in yourself.

Your mind is wired to judge, form opinions, assess a stimulus as positive or negative, and much more. This is a necessary mental process that helps you function in life. The problem sometimes lies in forming an opinion or judgment based on little evidence. And why is it a problem? Because subtle prejudices may influence your behavior. Hidden prejudice might make you:

  • Avoid befriending someone
  • Act arrogantly or condescendingly
  • Overlook or dismiss someone’s need or pain
  • Say something unkind
  • Unconsciously use body language, voice tone or other subtle behavior that causes someone pain  

Examples of hidden prejudice

You might make a conscious effort to reject any thoughts that seem to be generalizations against a race, religion, etc. Keep up the good work! It’s also important to be aware of subtle pre-judgments that you might make. The examples that follow might prompt you to examine your own beliefs in these and similar scenarios:

  • Deciding that someone whose looks, clothing, accent, educational background, etc. do not appeal to you is not worth getting to know
  • Assuming that a very attractive, intelligent person has an easier or better life than you do
  • Thinking that an obese person is lazy, gluttonous, jolly, etc.
  • Believing that all smokers could quit if they really wanted to
  • Worrying that someone receiving  treatment for depression or anxiety is unstable or a threat to you  

Challenging your thinking

If, after a bit of examining, you discover hidden prejudice in your own thoughts, don’t be too hard on yourself. prejudice is not a fixed personality trait. Prejudice of any kind is an adaptive, lifelong process. You have been bombarded with a lifetime of influence from people, media, and experiences that feed your thoughts even now.

You can counter those influences with fresh new thoughts and habits that challenge your biases. These tips may help:

  • Try to catch yourself judging someone.
  • Ask yourself what proof you have that your judgment is based on truth.
  • Challenge your judgments. Look for evidence that refutes your negative opinion of others.
  • Remind yourself often that you:
    • Might be mistaken in your judgment
    • Cannot read minds
    • Would be upset to think someone is judging you unfairly
  • Broaden your group of friends to include people you previously might have ignored.
  • Remain alert to the influence of subtle stereotyping and other potential seeds of prejudice in TV, books, conversations, etc.  

Some thought habits are so old they just won’t die easily. You actually have little control over thoughts prior to their springing up. But you can challenge the truth of a thought once you are aware of it. 

The bottom line is to bring prejudice out of hiding and into your conscious awareness. Once you recognize it and label it as “prejudice,” you are less likely to hold on to it.

Resources

Overcoming Prejudice by Tara Koellhoffer and Sharon L. Banas. Chelsea House Publishers, 2009.

Teaching Tolerance
www.tolerance.org 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Connor, T. “Definitions and Overview of Prejudice and Discrimination.” North Carolina Wesleyan College; Managing Your Mind by Gillian Butler, PhD and Tony Hope, MD. Oxford University Press, 1995; Tolerance.org

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