April 28, 2007
Despite being a database of unlimited information, it seems that prejudice on the internet will not decline any time soon. This is in part due to how many people select information which affirms their beliefs yet ignore information which opposes them. Factors which contribute to the reduction of prejudice are mutual interdependence, common goals, social norms, equal status, informal setting, and interaction with out-group members. The trouble with the internet is that although social contact exists, it is of a very particular quality. Because the information someone receives is primarily text based, it is easy for a prejudice individual to imagine other characteristics of the out-group member he is in contact with via his prejudiced schema. It is undeniable that the internet has brought people together from all over the world but we must also recognize the tendency of people to accept only selected information.
The internet is an informal setting where individuals appear to be of equal status and interact within certain norms of behavior. Nonetheless, it’s uncommon to find an individual of a certain political or prejudiced persuasion to surf the internet and state that they’ve found their beliefs to be inaccurate. People have a strong desire to live in an ordered and predictable world and so it is unlikely one would seek information which questions held views.