The Psychology of Racism

We hate because we are taught to hate, we hate because we are uninformed, ignorant, we are taught by ignorant people that there are 4/5 different races, however there is only one race and that is the human race.   There are people who thought we could separate races because some of us think we are more superior to others and we are not.   

We are all born equal.  

There is no gene for bigotry, there is no gene for racists, you are not born a bigot or a racist, you are taught to be a bigot, it is a LEARNED BEHAVIOUR.   We can learn to UNLEARN this type of bigotry behaviour, these are learned attitudes and behaviours.

No one is more superior or inferior to others, the pigmentation of our skin has nothing to do with intelligence or self worth as a human being.

Racism is not a mental illness.

Some experts have questioned whether racism and other forms of bigotry can be classified as mental illnesses.   To do this would not only be offensive to those who struggle with true mental health illnesses, but would also absolve members of hate groups and other extremists of moral responsibility.

The Psychology Behind Racism.

Racism has long been considered the product of economic, social, environmental and political forces. 

Racism per say falls under sociology however, the psychological issues racism falls under clinical disorders such as, antisocial personality disorder, that are defined by a lack of empathy and may predispose individuals to be capable of extreme racist attitudes.”.   

By the early 2000s, racism had several clinical names: 

  • prejudice personality, 
  • intolerant personality disorder and 
  • pathological bias.

All lives matter.

Psychologists and sociologists have been trying to understand the psychology behind this type of hate for decades.   

While no singular cause has been identified, most theorists agree that there are consistent factors that may help to explain the epistemology of racism.  However, repeated efforts to classify racism as a mental illness would fail over the next several decades, but debates and discussions remained active. 

Not all hate appears the same.

To hate is human, and can actually be a motivation for good. Hate can be rational, such as when we hate unjust acts.   On the other hand, hate of certain ethnic groups, religions, races, or sexual orientations is based on irrational beliefs that lead to hatred of others as well as hate crimes.   It is the belief that other ‘groups’ are inherently flawed or inferior or are seen as a threat.   Often these groups are dehumanised and de-legitimised, making it easier to hate.”

Psychological factors.

Any of a number of factors may lie behind extreme hate.   The following are some perspectives based on theories as they have evolved and as we understand them today.

Two examples are:


Attitudes of extreme hatred are usually based on fear.   They come from primitive survival mechanisms—our instinct to avoid danger—to fear anything that appears to be different, which leads to fear of the other.

When one race of persons unconsciously feels fear in response to a different race group—fears that their own level of security, importance, or control is being threatened—they will develop these defensive thoughts and behaviours.   

They will create exaggerated and negative beliefs about the other race to justify their actions in [an] attempt to secure their own safety and survival.


Projection is one of our natural defense mechanisms, and it allows us to avoid facing our own shortcomings by transferring—or projecting—them onto others.   The things people hate about others are the things that they fear within themselves.   The idea here is, ‘I’m not terrible, you are.’ The individual holding the hate believes on some deep level that these things may be true about themselves.

While racism is not a mental illness, the spectrum of racist attitudes is very broad.   There are [personality] disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder, that are defined by a lack of empathy and may predispose individuals to be capable of extreme racist attitudes.

Cultural and sociological factors.

After the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, a group of psychiatrists attempted to have extreme racism named as a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. This request was denied as racism was determined to be more of a cultural rather than a psychological issue, an idea with which most psychologists today agree.  

Education and public dialogue.

It is of utmost importance that children are taught about diversity from a young age.   Unfortunately, prejudice beliefs often stem from the home, teachers, and communities must take up the cause in teaching children to value diversity and differences.