Discrimination vs Prejudice: Difference and Comparison

The behavior of a person plays a very vital role in their lives. An individual’s character and nature are judged in society by how he/she reacts internally as well as externally under certain circumstances.

Behavior can be categorized into two – positive and negative. Discrimination and prejudice are categorized as negative behavior.

Key Takeaways

  1. Prejudice is an attitude or belief, while Discrimination is an action or behavior.
  2. Prejudice is based on stereotypes and is negative, while Discrimination can be positive or negative.
  3. Prejudice can be challenged through education and awareness, while Discrimination can be challenged through laws and policies.

Discrimination vs Prejudice

Discrimination refers to treating someone unfairly or differently based on certain characteristics, such as their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Prejudice refers to preconceived opinions or attitudes about a group or an individual that is not based on reason or actual experience.

Discrimination vs Prejudice

Discrimination is a biased and very negative treatment of an individual or a group of people based on external characteristics such as caste, creed, race, physical appearance, sexual intention, etc. Questioning someone’s likings & disliking, faith & belief is a detrimental behavior.

Mocking and judging someone can be extreme discrimination, and it is a very cynical behavior. While prejudice is the predetermined belief that is not based on a genuine experience, and it does not have a strong reason to be opinionated.

A person who is pre-judgmental has stereotypical beliefs and have contradictory feelings. Prejudice is a negative behavior, and such type of people are very pessimistic in their thoughts.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDiscriminationPrejudice
Based on It has a base on which people can distinguish or judge others. It is baseless, imaginative and completely only in the mind.
Visibility through actionsIt can be seen in a person’s action. It cannot be seen in a person’s actions.
Affect It can affect a group of people in a negative way. It cannot harm anyone strongly.
TypeDiscrimination is done on the basis of caste, colour, creed, sex, race, etc. Prejudice is stereotypical and is pre-judgmental.
Minimization or reductionThere is no solution of discrimination unless and until people gather humanity and stop being so judgmental. Prejudice can be reduced by contact hypothesis and empirical research.

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination was derived from the Latin word, discriminate, which means ‘distinguished between.’ The word ‘discrimination’ first popped up in the 17th century.

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This word, from then onwards till now, has become universal. Earlier, it was a synonym for sophistication, delicacy, and culture.

A person doesn’t need to be harmed, actually, to be discriminated against someone. If someone is really being helpful to the people in their surroundings but decides not to help the ones who have a different sexual orientation or are Black people, then that person is discriminating against a group of people on the basis of race and gender, which is a cynical attitude and such type of behavior is not helpful and positive at all.

A person who discriminates already has a despondent mindset, but discriminating against someone on a certain basis can also affect their mental health. Discriminating is mentally bullying someone or a group of people.

People with a discriminative mindset are verbal sadists who find comfort in making others feel bad, hurt, or low about themselves. Racial discrimination and bullying people on the basis of their sexual orientation, even in the twenty-first century, is still very common.

A lot of youth commit suicide due to racial and sexual discrimination and bullying. The movement of BLM, or Black Lives Matter, began in July 2013 due to the shot death of an African teen named Trayvon Martin and an African man named George Zimmerman.

This movement arose only because of racial discrimination against the black community. Racial discrimination has become a threat to a lot of people, and it is destroying the harmony among people in society.


What is Prejudice?

Prejudice is a disobliging attitude or behavior that is ununaffected by logical influence. In the 1920s, the first psychological research was conducted on prejudice, and in the year 1925, it was found that a lot of people believed in White people supremacy.

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People had the mentality without any rational thinking that white people were supposed to be witty, smart, and intelligent. In the 1970s, psychological research concluded that later people started gaining favoritism towards their own race or group of people without actually hating any other race or set of people.

There are a lot of controversies on prejudice. Prejudice can be based on many matters, such as; sexism, nationalism, racism, classism, homophobia, linguistics, religion, and neurological.

These issues are still in society, and it has not been solved among the people yet. There are two certain techniques through which the reduction of prejudice among people can be brought.

The two methods are; the contact hypothesis and empirical research. The contact hypothesis states that different groups of people must be brought together. They must be given the freedom of speech, share a similar goal, and be given a chance for frequent informal and interpersonal opportunities to discuss social norms to maintain equality must exist.

This could help in reducing prejudice. The empirical research mainly focuses on bringing empathy among people, asking the group of people to practice meditation, and treating everyone equally.

Main Differences Between Discrimination and Prejudice

  1. Discrimination is a negative attitude with a base, while prejudice is having a negative attitude towards a group of people without any reason.
  2. Discrimination is not only in mind but also in action, while prejudice cannot be shown in action.
  3. Discrimination can affect a person mentally, emotionally, and psychologically, while prejudice cannot affect a person deeply.
  4. Discrimination is done to a group of people on the basis of caste, creed, race, color, sexual orientation, and others, while prejudice can be about anyone or anything.
  5. Discrimination is completely cynical, while prejudice can sometimes rarely be positive prejudice too.
Difference Between Discrimination and Prejudice
  1. https://direct.mit.edu/rest/article-abstract/96/1/119/58118
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1980-23133-001

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Discrimination vs Prejudice: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The origins of the word ‘discrimination’ and ‘prejudice’ provide a fascinating insight into the historical evolution of these concepts and how they have shaped societal attitudes over time.

  2. This article has a significant level of depth in its exploration of prejudice and the historical context that has contributed to the prevalence of this negative attitude in society.

  3. The comparison table provided is a very effective way of understanding the fundamental differences between prejudice and discrimination, highlighting the distinct ways in which these harmful practices manifest.

  4. The movement of BLM and other current events really bring to light the severity of discrimination and how it has such a profound negative impact on society at large.

    • Yes, I think the examples highlighted serve as a stark reminder of why combating discrimination is crucial to achieving a more equitable and inclusive society.

    • There are indeed some thought-provoking points made in this article about the psychological impact of discrimination on individuals and communities.

  5. The article does well to paint a comprehensive picture of the impact of discrimination and prejudice, offering a nuanced and multi-faceted understanding of these complex issues.

  6. The mention of the contact hypothesis and empirical research as potential solutions for reducing prejudice offers a glimmer of hope for addressing this deeply ingrained negative behavior.

  7. A very insightful article that delves deep into the distinction between discrimination and prejudice, and how deep-rooted they are in our society.

  8. The psychological research on prejudice and the strategies for reducing it are particularly compelling, emphasizing the broader implications of addressing these attitudes in the context of social equality and justice.


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