How race, gender, age and class affects the way people are perceived

The following animation introduces how race, gender, age and class may impact on the way people are perceived and treated, and how they influence the ways in which career pathways may develop.


While the animation, of course, oversimplifies the rather complex processes leading to categorisation and discrimination based on socio-cultural factors, it has hopefully illustrated some of the prejudice and discrimination that are linked to the way socio-cultural factors are perceived in our society today, and in the mental health and criminal justice system.

The animation highlights the decisive turns and twists at the different junctions and crossroads in the life of Emma and Steve (the two characters in the animation) with statements based on research evidence, including:

1. ‘There’s evidence that working-class boys might be disadvantaged in the school system.’

2. ‘Certain groups are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police.’

3. ‘It’s a popular myth that self-harm only affects teenage girls.’

4. ‘Doctors are more likely to diagnose women as depressed and refer them to counselling.’

5. ‘Recent studies show black offenders are more likely to be jailed than white offenders by courts in England and Wales.’

6. ‘Eyewitnesses are better at recognising and identifying members of their own race.

This animation is featured in the Open University module DD310: Counselling and forensic psychology: investigating crime and therapy.

This module draws on recent theoretical debates and research to critically explore the fascinating relationship between counselling and forensic psychology. You’ll learn about media representations of crime and therapy and the role of sociocultural issues in both forensic and therapeutic work. You’ll be introduced to the most common and effective therapeutic approaches for working with offenders/victims of crime, and explore therapeutic and forensic aspects around sex and sexuality. You’ll develop an understanding of the dichotomies and emerging themes in this area and the challenges of providing therapy in a forensic setting.

Dr Andreas Vossler is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at The Open University.

Dr Zoe Walkington is a Lecturer in Psychology at The Open University.




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