Source Book For Social Psychology


Kimball Young

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There is perhaps no group of attitudes and related habits which reveal the nature of social stereotypes and the persistence of the mental patterns of the group more than those we denote as prejudices. Prejudice is so prevalent that it demands our special consideration. It should be clear at once the prejudice is connected with the in-group attitudes in reference to out-groups. It is related to ethnocentricism as Sumner calls it (Cf. Chapter II). It bespeaks, on the one hand, the attitudes of superiority and class domination. On the other, it reveals fear, jealousy and concern over the rising competition with the other or out-group. Prejudice is, in short, a name for a group of mental patterns which become thoroughly ingrained in the individual from infancy. The number of verbal stereotypes connected with prejudice is large. They define the situation of the two groups in rivalry or conflict condition. As with other verbal forms they have as a core a distinct emotional tone.

This delimitation in terms of language is brought out among other things in the quotation from Royce. Antipathies may arise between individuals, even within the group, but give antipathies names, associate these names with emotions, and connect them with the larger values of the group and we get prejudice. Park discusses prejudice in terms of social distance. Bogardus taking a clue from Park, has attempted to study social distance and prejudice quantitatively. As he points out, however, the mere measure in terms of social distance of the races which seem nearest or farthest away does not explain how the prejudices arose. This can only be got at by approach from another dimension, which may be called the historical-genetic. That is, to get at prejudice one must trace its inception and growth in the individual projected against his group experiences.[1]

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One of the most prevalent forms of prejudice today is that between the races. The nature of race prejudice is discussed by E. F. Young, Park and Thomas from different angles. The first deals with the place of values behind prejudices, with the dynamic character of these values, and, as regards racial feeling, their constancy once established. The second treats prejudice as a form of defense mechanism directed to the restriction of competition between races. This is particularly noticeable today with the present shifting of racial and national stocks from region to region. In reference to the Oriental, for example, so long as the Chinese served in a non-competitive way the functions of laundryman or house servant no difficulty arose. When they became rivals for a job or a business, prejudice began to form. In the first of the two papers by Thomas, he indicates the deep-seated nature of prejudice and its distinction from mere skin-prejudice and from caste-feeling. As pointed out in the note in the context, Thomas' use of the term instinct is permissible when the current usage of 1903 is understood. In the second selection from Thomas, race prejudice is correlated with isolation. And isolation simply means a phase of social distance.

In the final paper Lord Olivier discusses the connection between color prejudice and the deeper-lying racial dislike and hatred.

Works Excerpted


  1. The writer has discussed the statistical, cross-sectional method of studying social attitudes and traits in contrast to the historical-genetic in a paper “The Measurement of Personal and Social Traits.” American Journal of Sociology 33 (1927).

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