Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Want to understand the science behind prejudice? It works something like this ...

From ScienceDaily.com, we learn that under certain conditions routine and habit actually help people cope and function better. What this means, for example, is that the Cave Man who burns himself and learns to stay away from fire is doing a good thing. Initially this is rational.

Over time these kind of routines and understanding lay the foundation for habits, which initially help those who work or see the same thing everyday. They understand certain cues and know how to respond or act.

However, as adapted habits become routine they slowly leave those who make snap judgments (which is good initially) at a disadvantage because their routines lead them down a path where they learn nothing new. The end result is that they miss many opportunities.

The Cave Man who never uses fire to cook meat, to light the night path, or as a weapon did not evolve, or survive long. Fear and ignorance become the ugly step-sisters of habit and routine.

The evolution of prejudice and bias evolves in a similar fashion. Read about it here.

- Mark

1 comment:

Mtarango said...

People feel threatened when they can't categorize something or someone into a category that they are already familiar with. I think that is why people stereotype others. They feel better when they know what they are looking at. As your entry and the linked article state, we started doing this out of wisdom. When we treat someone unfairly based on the stereotype, there is a discrimination, and that is a problem. I admit that I have biased ideas about lots of people and things. I just hope that I am careful enough not to carelessly treat others based on my bias. I certainly don't want to be treated unfairly based on the stereotypes.

Regarding the prejudice, we hear about the shooting incident which a white person killed a black kid. I heard that the police chief resigned due to this. I wonder what Dr. Martinez's thoughts are on this.