Psychological need drives prejudice in humans: Study

December 22nd, 2011 - 6:22 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 22 (IANS) A deep psychological need drives prejudice, linked to a particular way of thinking, says a study.

People who want to make quick and firm decisions, shorn of ambiguity, also generalise about others, said Arne Roets and Alain Van Hiel from the Ghent University, Belgium.

“Of course, everyone has to make decisions, but some people really hate uncertainty and therefore quickly rely on the most obvious information,” said Roets, who led the study.

That is also why they favour authorities and social norms which make it easier to make decisions and stick to them, the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science reports.

“If you provide information that contradicts their decision, they just ignore it,” Roets, a psychologist, said, according to a Ghent statement.

People who need to make quick judgements will judge a new person based on what they already believe about their category. “The easiest and fastest way to judge is to say, for example, ok, this person is a black man.”

“If you just use your ideas about what black men are generally like, that’s an easy way to have an opinion of that person,” Roets said. “You say, ‘he’s part of this group, so he’s probably like this’.”

It’s virtually impossible to change the basic way that people think. Now for the good news: It’s possible to actually also use this way of thinking to reduce people’s prejudice.

If people who need quick answers meet people from other groups and like them personally, they were likely to use this positive experience to form their views of the whole group.

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