Ron B. Aviram, Ph.D.

The Relational Origins of Prejudice: A Convergence of Psychoanalytic and Social Cognitive Perspectives
(Jason Aronson Press, 2009).


Prejudice occurs between large groups and is experienced by members of those groups. Within the individual, these large group identifications are integrated into a dimension of the self-concept called collective identity. When collective identity is salient, people tend to perceive themselves and others as large group members, rather than as individuals. At those times, there is less differentiation between the self and the large group. We can say that the person is overidentified with the large group. Prejudice is an outcome of this overidentification. Our effort to understand the problem of prejudice requires that we examine both intrapsychic and environmental factors that may lead to an overidentification. In particular, a relational perspective directs our attention to the relationship between the individual and the large groups that make up his or her collective identity. This is called an ingroup, as opposed to outgroups (not part of one's collective identity). From this perspective, prejudice can be understood to be an aberration between the person and the ingroup, in which an overidentification occurs, rather than a problem between the person and an outgroup. How this occurs developmentally, intrapsychically, and environmentally to affect individuals is the subject of the book. Throughout the book, Aviram integrates empirical work from social psychology with theoretical and clinical examples from psychoanalysis in order to show the potential overlap of concepts used in both disciplines.


  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. Major Theories of Prejudice
  • Chapter 3. The Group in the Person
  • Chapter 4. Object Relations Theory of Prejudice
  • Chapter 5. Attachment Theory and Prejudice
  • Chapter 6. Society in the Consulting Room
  • Chapter 7. The Relational Origins of Prejudice


"Ron Aviram's The Relational Origins of Prejudice is a cogent and sophisticated account of how prejudice works in social life, and its enduring presence in the relational architecture of our minds. Aviram deploys the tools of modern psychoanalysis and those from contemporary social psychology to diagnose prejudice in our midst. This book makes a compelling case and shows how a deep understanding of prejudice is required to design correctives in clinical practice, in education, and in our communities."
– Kimberlyn Leary, Ph.D., ABPP, Harvard Medical School

"Ron Aviram's new book greatly enlarges our understanding of prejudice as an innate human process that must be understood for humanity's well-being. Aviram breaks new ground by drawing equally on advances in modern psychoanalytic object relations theory and social psychology. His original concept of the social object, linked to survival issues in individual and group identity, highlights the significance of primary identification throughout the life cycle. Taken with his careful study of aggression, this forms a new layer of theory that complements major existing ideas while providing a bridge to the central role of large group life in the dissemination of prejudice. The advances in theory provided here will become staples in the study of prejudice, offering a new platform for programs of education about and intervention into its most malignant aspects. The Relational Origins of Prejudice is highly recommended to clinicians, researchers, students of social science and social policy, and to everyone interested in the study and mitigation of prejudice." – David E. Scharff, M.D., Director, International Psychotherapy Institute

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