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The Development of Prejudice in Children

Autor:   •  August 14, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  750 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,014 Views

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Research Paper on Children


This research paper will examine the various mechanisms thought to be responsible for the development of prejudice in children. It will contrast the idea that prejudice is something which almost comes naturally and must be combated, with the idea that some personalities are prone to become and remain prejudiced. The term prejudice will be defined, and suggestions for combating the development and the retention of prejudicial ideas and practices will be outlined.

The Development of Prejudice in Children


Prejudice has been defined in many ways. According to G. Allport, prejudice is "An antipathy based on a faulty and inflexible generalization…which may be felt or expressed…and directed toward a group as a whole, or toward an individual because they are a member of that group. The net effect of prejudice is to place the object of prejudice at some disadvantage not merited by their own misconduct." (Carter and Rice, 185) One term which is often used when discussing the development of prejudice, and the mechanisms at play leading to it, is reactance. "Reactance is a motivational state aroused whenever individuals believe their freedom to have been infringed. In such situations, they are assumed to strive for some means of restoring personal control; the action they take depending upon the nature of the threat… a person may choose to embrace an attitude (in our case, prejudice)." This is not only true for adults, but also for children, and it is a mechanism of prejudice development which can be easily dealt with by reducing ignorance and increasing knowledge. (Carrington, 179) What this paper aims to do is examine some of the current research and its ideas with regards to how prejudice develops or is exacerbated in children. It also aims to examine the different kinds of prejudice, and some of the ways in which the school system can be instrumental in decreasing or hopefully even getting rid of prejudice in children. The school system is an ideal environment for this task, as this is where children spent the bulk of their time while they are growing up. Research studies which have been performed will be covered as well.

How do children become prejudiced?

Children define very early on in their lives


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