The aim of this paper was to stress the importance of the adaptive cognitive functioning of man in the causation of prejudice. It was felt that this approach has the merits of economy, credibility and testability of explanation which are not always shared by views seeking the psychological causes of intergroup tensions in the evolutionary past of the species or in unconscious motivation. Three cognitive processes were considered from the point of view of their relevance to the genesis of prejudice in an individual: categorization, assimilation, and search for conceptual coherence.
Though the paper was not concerned either with discussing ways to reduce prejudice or with outlining in any detail designs for future research, it is my belief that the general approach adopted here has implications, both for social action and for research, which have not been as yet consistently and fully taken into account.
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