Difference Between Prejudice and Discrimination


Main Difference

The main difference among prejudice and discrimination is that prejudice has to do with the inflexible and irrational attitudes and opinions held by members of one group about another, while discrimination refers to behaviors directed against another group.

Prejudice vs. Discrimination

Prejudice has to do with the rigid and irrational attitudes and opinions held by members of one group about another, while discrimination refers to behaviors directed against another group. Prejudice contains all three parts of an attitude (effective, behavioral and cognitive), whereas discrimination involves behavior. Being prejudiced usually means having intentional beliefs about groups of people or cultural practices. Prejudices can either be positive or negative—both forms are usually preconceived and difficult to alter. In the search sense, prejudice is a preconceived opinion, without any information or reason, whereas discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of the different category of people, on various grounds like age, race or gender.


Comparison Chart

Prejudice is an unreasonable and indefensible attitude towards an individual only because of his membership in a social group.Discrimination relates to the unjust or negative handling of a person or a group from other people because he/she belongs to a particular class, group or category.
Caused by
Cognitive and EffectiveBehavioral
What is it?
Abstract misapprehension, only in mind.Expression of prejudice.
Non-consciousConscious and Non-conscious
The negative attitude towards an individual or group.Unfair behavior towards an individual or group.
Legal Action
Cannot be taken against it.Can be taken against it.

What is Prejudice?

Prejudice is a preconceived, unreasonable idea or feeling, especially a hostile one, about a particular ethnic, racial, social, or religious group. Prejudice is a groundless and typically negative attitude that an individual can hold toward someone else, or the members of a certain group. These feelings translated into action by discriminating against the person or members of the target group. It is irrational, the preconceived opinion that leads to preferential treatment to some people and unfavorable bias or hostility against others, due to ignorance (or in direct contradiction) of facts. Prejudice means, pre-judgment. Prejudice can also relate to unfounded or pigeonholed beliefs, and it may include “any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence. If someone prejudices another person’s situation, they do something which makes it worse than it should be. Individual prejudiced opposing others based on factors such as race, age, gender, sexual orienteering, class status, religion, and nationality, among other things. Some of the more usual prejudice examples comprise:

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious prejudice
  • Ageism
  • Nationalism
  • Classicism

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination is the action of making a distinction between one thing and other. Discrimination defined as distinguishing differences between things or treating someone as inferior based on their race, sex, national origin, age or other characteristics. We discriminate between things daily. Discrimination is the irregular or unfair treatment of a person based upon some personal characteristic. It is a distinction based on the personal characteristics of an individual resulting in some disadvantage to that individual. If you have been processed differently from other people only because of who you are or because you possess certain characteristics, you may have been distinguishing or discriminated. Discrimination can occur in the following forms:

  • Direct Discrimination: when a person with a protecting characteristic is treated less favorably than others, it is direct discrimination.
  • Indirect Discrimination: If there is a control or policy in the workplace that puts you at a disadvantage as compared to others, it may be considered indirect discrimination.
  • Discrimination by Perception: Acceptance unfair treatment because someone thinks you belong to a group with protected characteristics, you may be experiencing discrimination by perception.
  • Discrimination by Association: If you are treated below the belt because someone you know or are associated with has a protected characteristic, this construed as discrimination by association.
  • Harassment: Harassment includes unwanted behavior that makes another person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.
  • Victimization: When a person is treated badly or subjected to a detriment because they complained about discrimination or supported another victim of discrimination.

Key Differences

  1. Prejudice is an extravagant and gratuitous attitude towards an individual only because of his belonging in a social group. The inequitable or negative treatment of a person or a group from other people because he/she belongs to a particular class, group or category is called discrimination.
  2. Prejudice is the abstract misapprehension, only in mind. Conversely, when the prejudice put into action, it is called discrimination.
  3. Prejudice is a consequence of lack of knowledge, information, ignorance and stereotyping. As against this, prejudice leads to discrimination.
  4. The cognitive and effective components of attitude utilized to prejudice. On the contrary, the conduct towards other people, i.e., the behavioral component applies to discrimination.
  5. As long as prejudice is a pessimistic attitude about an individual or a particular group. As opposed to discrimination, unfair behavior about an individual or group.
  6. Prejudice is a reliance which involves the formation of opinion and interpretation about someone or something in advance. On the other hand, discrimination encompasses the translation of these opinions and interpretation and putting them into actions.
  7. Prejudice is constantly non-attentive and automatic whereas discrimination can be conscious and non-conscious.
  8. One can make legal actions against discrimination but not against prejudice.


In a condense, prejudice means retention an opinion about an individual or something without knowing the information or evidence. It is a person’s internal thoughts and feelings which do not always result in action. Discrimination means unequal treatment or treating people differently by an individual’s feelings and inclinations, which is very obvious. These are anti-social behavior, present in almost all the countries, that may cause stress and tension among the various group and may also result in harm to the group to whom it directed.