Modern Prejudice

  • Melanie P. DuckworthEmail author
  • Megan Radenhausen
  • Mira Seekins
  • Tony Iezzi


Theoretical conceptualizations of prejudice have shifted dramatically over the past century, with prejudice first conceptualized as a natural and normative – and often overtly expressed – response of members of dominant groups to the perceived inferiority of members of nondominant groups. More recently, prejudice has been conceptualized as reflecting those attitudinal and affective responses of dominant groups toward nondominant groups that are subtle and occur outside of awareness as a function of unconscious processes. Shifts in the conceptualization of prejudice have occurred in tandem with shifts in the acceptability of overtly expressed prejudicial beliefs and behaviors; shifts in the general language used to describe prejudicial thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and shifts in the aims, operational definitions, and methodologies employed in evaluating the occurrence and harmful impacts of prejudice. The sociocultural context is immediately relevant to the identification of dominant in-groups and nondominant out-groups, with the dominance of any in-group typically reflecting both the social privilege and resource advantage associated with one or more characteristics of the in-group. Although prejudicial attitudes can be held by members of dominant in-groups and members of nondominant out-groups, it is the ability to translate prejudicial attitudes into discriminatory behavior that differentiates the two groups. This chapter provides definitions of historic and modern prejudice; a broad overview of the theories that have been forwarded to explain the development and maintenance of prejudicial attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors; a brief review of prejudice as it occurs in relation to specific nondominant cultural identities; and a brief review of the changes in assessment methodologies employed by researchers to assess the occurrence of prejudice.


Modern prejudice  Historic prejudice Cultural identity Intersectionality Assessment of prejudice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie P. Duckworth
    • 1
    Email author
  • Megan Radenhausen
    • 1
  • Mira Seekins
    • 1
  • Tony Iezzi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Nevada, RenoRenoUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Medicine Service, London Health Sciences CentreLondonCanada

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