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Prejudice

Prejudice is, as the name implies, the process of "pre-judging" something. In general, it implies coming to a judgement on the subject before learning where the preponderance of the evidence actually lies.

Thus, for example, in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, the heroine forms a strong opinion of a man's character before she has the chance to hear his side of the story. When the balance of the facts are finally made known to her, they challenge and ultimately overturn this prejudice.

Sometimes this is a matter of fallaciously extending one's own experience to the general case. In other cases, it may be a matter of early education; those taught that certain attitudes are the "correct" ones may form opinions without weighing the evidence on both sides of a given question.

When applied to social groups, prejudice generally refers to existing biases toward the members of such groups, often based on social stereotypes. For example, a person who has had a series of bad relationships with those of the opposite sex may develop a prejudice against that sex, and thus assume that the factors souring the relationships are always present in members of that sex, and adopt the set of prejudices known as sexism. Or, if a person has grown up with the concept that members of group "X" have certain characteristics, they may apply this prejudice by assuming that all members of the group fit that stereotype, as in racism or homophobia.



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