Prejudice and discrimination often go hand in hand as prejudice defines the unjustified ideas about an individual due to their connection to a particular group while discrimination involves the mistreatment of that individual due to these misconceptions. According to McLeod (2008), a person can be prejudice against a group but not act on this in a discriminatory fashion but discrimination always stems from prejudice beliefs about the group. In order to prevent discrimination from occurring, it is important to determine what leads to these prejudices and how an individual determines whether or not to act on these through discriminatory practices.
McLeod (2008) explains that there are numerous factors that can lead to prejudices such as conformity, authoritative misconceptions, and personal experiences. Each of these factors can cause a person to either view themselves as superior to another group or to have stereotypical beliefs about a group based on an individualized experience. Whether the ‘other’ group is based on gender, race, ethnicity, or some other demographic is determined by the social perception of this group as it applies to the person’s own view and experiences. However, discrimination is much more closely linked to social norms and authoritative misconceptions as personal experiences alone cannot provide a person with the empowerment to discriminate. Yet, if the person is given reinforcement for their discriminatory behaviors, they are more likely to act on their prejudice beliefs (McLeod, 2008).

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As the primary factors have been discussed in misconceptions and social conformity, the best way to combat both prejudice and discrimination is through debunking these by providing education and helping to form a social norm that is less accepting of discriminatory behaviors. As a person may form a prejudice belief based on personal experiences, it is important that society does not provide reinforcement for acting out in a discriminatory fashion while also important for demographic identifiers to not be taught as stereotypical causes for the onset of prejudice.

  • McLeod, S. A. (2008). Prejudice and Discrimination. Retrieved from