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Reducing prejudice through exchanges between equals

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Smith College

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  1. Advantages and disadvantages of diversity.
  2. Implicit prejudice.
  3. The contact hypothesis.
  4. Complexities of the contact hypothesis.
  5. Recategorization and diversity.
  6. Conclusion.

America prides itself on its immigrant culture and great progressive values that have been the key to political, economic, and technological superiority. Indeed, the United States is comprised of a diversity of cultures and ethnicities. Even with its progressive history and values, America is far from perfect. Prejudice and bigotry are still major problems in all aspects of American life. Although American culture values and respects diversity, personal and institutional prejudice and intolerance are still major problems of American culture.

[...] Specifically, the one-group condition reduced bias by increasing the cohesion with former outgroup members, while the individual condition reduced bias by reducing cohesion with the former ingroup members. Thus, the results support the effectiveness of recategorization and decategorization of ingroups to reduce intergroup bias. However, like Sherif et al.'s (1961) problem, Gaertner et al.'s (1989) study was conducted with nominal groups that were arbitrarily assigned and short-lived. It is much easier after all to take off a red tag that had meant nothing 10 minutes ago and work with someone with a blue tag than it is to relinquish one's race or ethnicity and work with an outgroup with whom a whole history of conflict and distrust is associated. [...]


[...] The IAT serves as both an indicator of current levels of prejudice and a measure to test how effective various strategies are in reducing prejudice. The Contact Hypothesis Not satisfied with merely recognizing the current state of prejudice, social psychologists have also researched ways to reduce prejudice. In his milestone publication, Allport (1954) vehemently argues that prejudice is not inevitable and that people can use social interventions to both reduce the intensity of prejudice and counter its worst effects. Allport suggested that the best way to reduce hostility towards outgroup members is to bring the two groups into contact with each other in various ways. [...]


[...] Complexities of the Contact Hypothesis The contact hypothesis, however, is more complex than the name suggests. The third week of Sherif et al.'s (1961) study suggested that social contact alone is not enough to reduce prejudice. Anecdotal evidence, such as ethnic and religious conflict in mixed communities around the world, shows that only certain types of contact are effective in reducing prejudice. Allport (1954) recognized this from the formation of the contact hypothesis. To effectively address prejudice through social contact a number of other conditions must be fulfilled. [...]

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