The Genetic/Evolutonary Basis of Prejudice and Hatred

Harold D Fishbein


I believe that prejudice underlies the development of hatred toward various outgroups. Hence, in order to understand the origins of hatred, it is essential to understand the origins of prejudice. Our genetic/evolutionary heritage provides the initial push toward prejudice. My essential argument is that three sets of genetic/evolutionary processes that lead to prejudice and discrimination evolved in hunter-gatherer tribes. They were appropriate and necessary for that subsistence mode, which characterizes 99% of human existence. These three sets of processes—inclusive fitness, authority-bearing systems, intergroup hostility— are put into motion in nonhunter-gatherer contexts because they have been incorporated into our epigenetic systems. A fourth set of processes, outgroup attractiveness, which is based on the necessity of gene flow, to some extent counteracts the above processes and may lead to the reduction of prejudice and discrimination.


prejudice, hatred, intergroup, authority

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