“Don’t ride in a taxi with a Saudi driver!” “Oh he did that? Probably a Saudi.” These were the kinds of things I heard all the time while growing up. And now; well of course I won’t ride in a taxi with a Saudi driver! I also wouldn’t talk to Saudis, be friends with any Saudis and I avoid Saudi sellers in shops. But what is it about Saudis? Technically we’re all the same and I know it. But I have developed a prejudice against Saudi people due to various negative stereotypes that have been drilled into me until I believed them to be true. Saudis are lazy, Saudis are selfish and arrogant, Saudis are hostile and mean, Saudis are bad drivers! These were all established facts for me. These might have been the results of the phenomenon of illusory correlation. Maybe every time a shopkeeper was mean to me it just so happened to be a Saudi. Or out of the 10 road accidents that happened in the past week, 9 involved Saudis. And from there, I went on to conclude that all Saudis are mean and bad drivers.
This is also an example of a phenomenon known as the ultimate attribution error. So maybe the shopkeepers I dealt with were all just having a bad day and I made a dispositional attribution rather than consider the situational aspects, and then generalised to all Saudis, under the perception of out-group homogeneity. I would argue that after I had made up my mind about them, they were constantly proving me right. But that may be due to the self-fulfilling prophecy, where the way I unconsciously reacted towards Saudi people, causes them to react negatively to me which reinforces my existing stereotypes.
Thankfully, there are ways in which prejudice can be reduced and stereotypes refuted. The contact hypothesis along with its 6 conditions suggest that increasing the contact between different groups in a situation of mutual interdependence can reduce prejudice over time. The groups also need to have a common goal and equal status in order for this to succeed. And yet prejudice is still prevalent all over the world, despite the various solution proposed to counter it.