Bigotry vs. Prejudice

What's the Difference?

Bigotry and prejudice are both negative attitudes and behaviors that involve unfair and biased judgments towards individuals or groups. However, there are subtle differences between the two. Prejudice refers to preconceived opinions or attitudes held towards a person or group based on their perceived characteristics, such as race, religion, or gender. It is often rooted in stereotypes and can lead to discrimination. On the other hand, bigotry goes beyond prejudice and involves an extreme and irrational attachment to one's own beliefs, often leading to intolerance and hatred towards those who hold different views or belong to different groups. While prejudice can be based on ignorance or lack of exposure, bigotry is characterized by a stubborn refusal to consider alternative perspectives.


DefinitionIntolerance or hatred towards individuals or groups based on their perceived characteristics, beliefs, or affiliations.Preconceived opinions or attitudes towards individuals or groups based on stereotypes or generalizations.
OriginDerived from the French word "bigot," meaning religious hypocrite.Derived from the Latin word "praejudicium," meaning preconceived judgment.
TargetCan be directed towards any individual or group based on various characteristics such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.Can be directed towards any individual or group based on preconceived notions or stereotypes.
BeliefsOften rooted in deeply ingrained ideologies or prejudices.Based on preconceived notions or stereotypes without substantial evidence or personal experience.
ExpressionCan manifest through discriminatory actions, hate speech, or exclusionary behavior.Can manifest through biased attitudes, discriminatory actions, or prejudiced remarks.
ImpactCan lead to systemic discrimination, marginalization, and social inequality.Can contribute to stereotypes, social divisions, and interpersonal conflicts.
Legal StatusNot protected by anti-discrimination laws in all jurisdictions.Not protected by anti-discrimination laws in all jurisdictions.

Further Detail


Bigotry and prejudice are two terms often used interchangeably, but they have distinct attributes that set them apart. Both concepts involve negative attitudes and beliefs towards certain groups of people, but they differ in their origins, manifestations, and impacts on individuals and society. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of bigotry and prejudice, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Definition and Origins

Bigotry refers to an irrational and stubborn attachment to one's own beliefs, opinions, or prejudices, often accompanied by intolerance towards those who hold different views or belong to different groups. It stems from deeply ingrained biases and can be fueled by fear, ignorance, or a desire for power and control. Prejudice, on the other hand, refers to preconceived opinions or attitudes formed without sufficient knowledge, reason, or experience. It arises from stereotypes, generalizations, and societal conditioning, often perpetuated through cultural norms and media influences.


Both bigotry and prejudice can manifest in various ways, impacting individuals and communities. Bigotry often leads to overt acts of discrimination, hate speech, or violence against targeted groups. It can be seen in the form of racial, religious, or gender-based hatred, where individuals are denied equal rights and opportunities due to their identity. Prejudice, on the other hand, may manifest more subtly through implicit biases, microaggressions, or unconscious discrimination. It can result in exclusion, unequal treatment, or biased decision-making, perpetuating systemic inequalities.

Impact on Individuals

Both bigotry and prejudice have detrimental effects on individuals who are targeted or marginalized. Bigotry can cause significant psychological harm, leading to feelings of fear, anxiety, and low self-esteem. It can also result in social isolation, as individuals may face rejection or exclusion from their communities. Prejudice, too, can have profound psychological impacts, contributing to feelings of inferiority, self-doubt, and internalized oppression. It can hinder personal growth, limit opportunities, and create barriers to success.

Impact on Society

The impact of bigotry and prejudice extends beyond individuals and permeates society as a whole. Bigotry can fuel social divisions, erode trust, and hinder social progress. It can lead to the formation of segregated communities, perpetuate stereotypes, and impede efforts towards equality and inclusivity. Prejudice, too, has far-reaching consequences, as it reinforces systemic discrimination, perpetuates social hierarchies, and limits the potential of diverse communities. It hampers social cohesion, impedes collaboration, and undermines the principles of justice and fairness.

Overcoming Bigotry and Prejudice

While bigotry and prejudice pose significant challenges, efforts can be made to overcome them and foster a more inclusive society. Education plays a crucial role in challenging stereotypes, promoting empathy, and fostering understanding. By exposing individuals to diverse perspectives and experiences, we can dismantle the foundations of bigotry and prejudice. Additionally, promoting dialogue, encouraging open-mindedness, and fostering intergroup contact can help break down barriers and build bridges between different communities.


Bigotry and prejudice are two distinct yet interconnected concepts that have profound impacts on individuals and society. While bigotry represents an entrenched attachment to one's own beliefs, prejudice refers to preconceived opinions formed without sufficient knowledge. Both can lead to discrimination, exclusion, and harm. Recognizing and challenging these negative attitudes is essential for creating a more inclusive and equitable world. By fostering empathy, promoting education, and encouraging dialogue, we can work towards dismantling bigotry and prejudice, paving the way for a more harmonious and accepting society.

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