Existence of Prejudices in In-Groups

Existence of Prejudices in In-Groups - Clark1 Professor...

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Clark1 Professor Rieder 8 November 2006 Existence of Prejudices in In-groups As Harvard’s former head of the Department of Psychology, Gordon Allport developed many theories regarding the human psyche. One such theory was the “Group Norm Theory of Prejudice.” This theory is detailed in The Formation of In-Groups , written in the mid 1950s . Allport theorizes that prejudices are formed by the in-groups which we are members of, and he states that when joining an in-group, “The in-group’s preferences must be his preferences, its enemies his enemies” (180). So by joining an in- group one must adopt the beliefs of that in-group. Does this theory hold true in daily life? Are prejudices really formed by the joining of an in-group? The response is simple, yes. By observing people who join groups, it becomes obvious that by and large the prejudices of that group are adopted by its members. This is apparent in many different cases such as school rivalries, sports teams, or even competition in the job market. In his essay Allport begins by defining in-groups. He states that the easiest way to describe an in-group is any group of people who “use the term we with the same essential significance” (173). Every individual is a member of many different in-groups, whether they are concerned with them or not. Children are automatically members of their parent’s in-groups; ethnicities, families, sex, or organizations are all considered in- groups. According to Allport any people who share some common background or trait are deemed to be members of the same in-group. Allport also describes how the nature of in-groups has shifted over the years, “During the past century, national and racial memberships have risen in importance, while family and religious memberships have
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Clark2 declined” (175). One example he uses are Scottish clans where “fierce loyalties and rivalries” had once existed, but are now mostly a thing of the past. Not only can the nature of in-groups change, but the in-group itself can be recreated to suit its members, much like the republican and democratic parties change over time. Another topic in Allport’s essay are reference groups, which are closely related to in-groups. A reference group is defined by Allport as a group into which a person desires membership. These concepts of in-groups and reference groups illustrate two different “levels of
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This essay was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course ENG 101 taught by Professor Cornett during the Fall '08 term at N.C. State.

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Existence of Prejudices in In-Groups - Clark1 Professor...

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