Difference Between Prejudice and Discrimination

Main Difference – Prejudice vs Discrimination

Prejudice and Discrimination have been and still are common throughout the world. Though Prejudice and Discrimination are two concepts, they are both interrelated. Prejudice is a preconceived idea that is not based on facts or actual experience. Discrimination is the unfair treatment of a person, especially due to his race, gender or age. Discrimination is often a result of prejudice. The main difference between prejudice and discrimination is that prejudice is a thought or an attitude whereas discrimination is a behavior or an act.

What is Prejudice

Prejudice is an unjust, often negative attitude towards an individual based on that individual’s membership in a social group. Prejudice is a preconceived view or judgment that is not based on real facts or actual experience. It is a kind of negative idea an individual has, before having sufficient knowledge to judge with accuracy. Prejudice can be based on factors like race, gender, age, caste, political opinions, religion, etc. For example, a person might have the preconceived idea that old people cannot do anything on their own and are entirely dependent on others. This can be considered as a prejudice against age.

Prejudice can be positive or negative; we often tend to show a negative attitude towards individuals that belong to a different group than us and show a positive attitude towards those who belong to our own group. This is mainly due to the lack of knowledge and trust in a different social group. Furthermore, prejudice is not something we are not born with, but we learn prejudice from those around us. It is important to note that it is not very easy to change such prejudices since they have been engrained in people since childhood.Difference Between Prejudice and Discrimination

What is Discrimination

Discrimination is the negative behavior or actions against an individual or group of people on the basis of their social identity. Here, the social identity is composed of factors like gender, age, race, sexual orientation, marital status, education, family background, etc. Discrimination is treating an individual unfairly based on these factors. People with various disabilities also find themselves as a target of discrimination.

Discrimination is often a result of prejudice; it is when we have the idea that someone is different and inferior to us, that we start to treat that differently, especially unfairly. For example, women are often discriminated in the workplace because they are considered to be more delicate and inefficient than men. Women, on average, earn less than men for doing the same job as men.

However, many countries have laws and regulations against discrimination to protect the citizens from the adverse effects of discrimination.Main Difference - Prejudice vs Discrimination

Difference Between Prejudice and Discrimination


Prejudice is an unjust, often negative attitude towards an individual based on that individual’s membership in a social group.

Discrimination is the negative behavior or actions against an individual or group of people on the basis of their social identity.

Act vs Attitude

Prejudice is an attitude.

Discrimination involves action and behavior.


Prejudice can be caused by lack of knowledge, ignorance and stereotyping.

Discrimination can be a result of prejudice.


Legal action cannot be taken against prejudice.

Legal action can be taken against discrimination.Difference Between Prejudice and Discrimination - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Little Rock integration protest” by John T. Bledsoe – Library of Congress, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection. (Public Domain) via

“WhiteDoorColoredDoor” by Jack Delano, photographer – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID fsa.8a33793. (Public Domain) via

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