Difference Between Discrimination and Prejudice (With Table)

Behavior of a person plays a very vital role in their lives. An individual’s character and nature is judged in the society by how he/she reacts internally as well as externally in a under certain circumstances. Behavior can be categorized in two – positive and negative. Discrimination and prejudice are categorised as negative behavior.

Discrimination vs Prejudice

The main difference between discrimination and prejudice is that discrimination can come after being prejudiced but prejudice cannot happen after discrimination. Prejudice is judging someone or something without even knowing or getting familiar to a certain situation; whereas discrimination is differentiating or judging someone/something on the basis of the reaction of a situation.

Discrimination is a biased and a 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 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 have stereotypical beliefs and have contradictory feelings. Prejudice is a negative behavior and such type of people are very pessimistic in their thoughts.

Comparison Table Between Discrimination and Prejudice

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?

The word discrimination was derived from the Latin word called discriminat which means ‘distinguished between’. The word ‘discrimination’ first popped up in the 17th century. 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 surrounding but decides to not help the ones who have different sexual orientation or are Black people then, that person is discriminating 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 someone on 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 commits 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 the racial discrimination to the black community. Racial discrimination has become a threat to a lot of people and it is destroying the harmony among people in the society.

What is Prejudice?

Prejudice is a disobliging attitude or behavior that is unusually unaffected 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.

People had the mentality without any rational thinking that white people were supposed to be witty, smart and intelligent. In the 1970s the 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’s a lot of controversies on prejudice. Prejudice can be based on many matters such as; sexism, nationalism, racism, classism, homophobia, linguistic, religious and neurological. These issues are still in the 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 for this different groups of people must be brought together and they must be given the freedom of speech, must share a similar goal, must be given a chance for frequent informal and interpersonal opportunities to discuss and, social norms to maintain equality must exist. This could help in reducing prejudice. The empirical research mainly focuses on the idea of bringing empathy among people, asks the group of people to practice meditation and treat everyone equally.

Main Differences Between Discrimination and Prejudice

  1. Discrimination is a negative attitude with a base while prejudice is generally having a negative attitude towards a group of people without any reason.
  2. Discrimination is not only in the mind but also in the action, while prejudice cannot be shown in action.
  3. Discrimination can affect a person mentally, emotionally as well as psychologically, while prejudice cannot affect a person deeply.
  4. Discrimination is done to a group of people on the basis of caste, creed, race, colour, 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.


Discrimination and prejudice can be two different words but both the words are interlinked. Discrimination and Prejudice are both negative behavior but, prejudice can be positive too like criticism is (positive and negative criticism) but discrimination can never have a positive side to it.

Discrimination is a skeptical attitude of a person. Discrimination is loud as it can be seen in a persons’ action and way of reacting to or in certain circumstances. Both the words are often used interchangeably, but have distinct differences.


  1. https://direct.mit.edu/rest/article-abstract/96/1/119/58118
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1980-23133-001
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