Scenario #3
Free associations and prejudice barometer

Free associations and prejudice barometer

Aims / objectives

The aim of this exercise is to recognise prejudices, own resentments and the possible consequences of them. The exercise should therefore encourage critical reflection, promote tolerance and help one to stand up against prejudice. It thus strengthens resilience against the stereotypes and devaluations that are dangerous for democracies.

Description of the method

The participants are shown pictures from advertising that depict various subjects with people of different ages, gender, skin colour, etc. These can be more or less implicitly judgmental pictures. In a first exercise, the participants should freely associate what comes to their mind about these pictures or the people depicted.

These associations are then discussed in the group (or in smaller groups) and checked for prejudices or stereotypes. In a second round, the participants evaluate which of these people is closest to them, could be their friend, and why. Again, the results are discussed. The intention is to deliberately develop a counter-position, so that strategies to combat prejudices are also practised in the discussion.

Usability in social work

The exercise should be easily applicable in the context of social work or youth work because it has few formal requirements. It only needs pictures that can also be shown via mobile phone or from billboards. It should be possible to discuss in a group setting.


Name of the method

Free associations and prejudice barometer

Target group

Youth and adults (from 13)


1 hour

Spatial requirements

Workshop room with screen


Self-reflection, critical thinking, analytical skills, tolerance, intercultural competences


Participants should get aware about their own prejudices and analyse where they come from and where they lead to; they should also learn how to counter prejudices in discussions

Method description

Participants give their impressions and associations to pictures of different people; then, they discuss their prejudices

Social work context

Can be used in groups with strong and open prejudices or help to make them more explicit; some formal requirements, like a room and a group to discuss


Selection of pictures; preparation of questions; theoretical background for discussion of prejudices


Prejudices could be confirmed if they are not discussed; i.e. if many people in the group have similar associations; group should be heterogeneous.

concept / application

Presented by Reinhard Leonhardsberger of the association SOS Menschenrechte (SOS Human Rights)


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