Prejudice Transformation from Overt to Covert Forms as an Indicator of its Functions in Intergroup Relations



Objective. The study is aimed to clarify the understanding of the functions of prejudice in intergroup relations. A comparison of approaches to explaining intergroup relations and an analysis of the transformation of prejudice into covert, subtle forms were applied in order to achieve the aim.
Background. The plasticity of prejudice, its transformation into covert, subtle forms in response to equal rights movements and social inadmissibility, the inconsistencies in the prejudice reduction techniques effectiveness indicates that something fundamental about the nature of prejudice is being missed by researchers. The persistent negativity of prejudice suggests that one should look for this “missing” in the concept of functions. The functions of prejudice per se have not been a focus of research attention yet.
Methodology. The rationale was based on functional analysis in psychology, sociology and social anthropology.
Conclusions. The persistence, “inflexibility” of a negative attitude is an essential trait of prejudice, and not just an imperfection of its first definitions. It points to the functions that prejudice fulfills in intergroup relations, that is, it leads to a positive, a useful result for the system (society and its structure). Features of the transformation of prejudice into covert forms show that preserving the entitativity and the boundaries of the group (which is the unit of this system) in a “loose” egalitarian society seems to be prejudice function.

General Information

Keywords: prejudice; functions of prejudice; covert (subtle) prejudice; intergroup relations; Russia

Journal rubric: Theoretical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Science Foundation, project number 22-28-00799, at the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

Received: 10.11.2023


For citation: Kotova M.V. Prejudice Transformation from Overt to Covert Forms as an Indicator of its Functions in Intergroup Relations. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2024. Vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 57–75. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2024150104. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Marina V. Kotova, PhD in Psychology, Associate professor, School of Psychology, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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