Prejudice differences in men and women

The nature of prejudice against people from different backgrounds varies for men and women. This is the suggestion of new research led by investigators at Michigan State University (MSU), which showed this type of behaviour is linked to aggression for males and fear for females.

According to the study, history suggests men are more likely to start wars with others while also defending their own group - an approach that, while being risky, creates an opportunity to recoup these losses through gaining mates, status, territory and resources.

Females, on the other hand, maintain a fear of strangers and therefore put measures in place to protect themselves from those they do not know.

Melissa McDonald, a researcher from MSU said that while such sex-specific responses may have been adjustable in ancestral times, "they have likely lost this adaptive value in our modern society and now act only to needlessly perpetuate discrimination and conflict among groups".

Anita Abrams, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "The gut responses of 'fight or flight' serve us as well as they did our primitive ancestors.

"But today's socio-economic-political threats require thinking skills and the development of empathy.

"Societies, which aspire to function as democracies, need to promote critical thinking as much as they do literacy and numeracy."