How Does Prejudice Affect Society?

Prejudice affects society most when discriminatory views are translated into institutional policy, said Dr. Alvin Poussaint, as reported by the Library of Congress. Such institutional policy can lead to racial segregation and a lower quality of life for the oppressed.

Prejudice can have a devastating impact on a person's psyche. For instance, according to Poussaint, African Americans face tremendous stress by having their competency constantly questioned and generally being treated as suspects. Racism fosters racial stratification and social discontentment, preventing people who are targets of racism from becoming fully integrated in society.

Prejudice can affect children at an early age. A study from Rush University and Yale University revealed that children can harbor racial views as early as 5 to 11 years old. The research, published in the journal "Child Development" and reported by, concluded that children carry prejudicial views with them into adulthood, and old stereotypes and assumptions affect how they interact with people of different backgrounds.

Prejudice can have far more insidious effects on society, such as the Holocaust during Germany's Nazi regime, or massacres and land confiscation of Native Americans in American history, according to Remember, an educational resource devoted to telling the history of the Holocaust and genocide. In addition, minorities can be scapegoats for societal failings, leading to a systemic atmosphere of violence and isolation.