Updated: The psychological origins of prejudice, discrimination, and racism

Are people “hard-wired” to discriminate based on skin color, ethnicity, religion, place of origin, gender, sexual identity, etc.? Is it hereditary? Do we have no choice?

Or, is it learned? As children, are we taught to discriminate by our parents, our greater family, in school, in church, by our friends?

If we learn to be racist, can we learn not to be racist? If so, what does that take?

See the updated bibliography at


Questions? Please let me know (engelk@grinnell.edu).

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