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Gordon Allport's "The Nature of Prejudice"

Irwin Katz
Political Psychology
Vol. 12, No. 1 (Mar., 1991), pp. 125-157
DOI: 10.2307/3791349
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3791349
Page Count: 33
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Gordon Allport's "The Nature of Prejudice"
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Abstract

Gordon Allport's landmark book, The nature of prejudice, defined the field of intergroup relations for social psychologists as the study of prejudice and its effects on group interactions. He organized existing knowledge about societal, group and personality determinants of prejudice acquisition and persistence in a way that suggested new directions for research. Moreover, he brought the subject of ethnic stereotyping into the mainstream of behavioral science by treating this phenomenon as a special case of ordinary cognitive functioning. The cognitive approach has since become the dominant theoretical perspective in research on prejudice and discrimination. Allport was impressed by the apparent nonreversability of ethnic stereotypes; his pessimism about the prospects for immediate prejudice reduction in the United States remains a prevalent point of view among investigators. On the optimistic side, he discerned the inherent conflict in the American mind between two strongly held value frames, social stratification and social equality, as a psychological condition favoring attitude change as the status of racial minorities improved. Forty years of social psychological research have not provided strong support for Allport's assumption that prejudice causes discrimination nor an explanation of the substantial long-term movement in the majority's racial sentiments and beliefs.

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