Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination

By Stuart Oskamp | Go to book overview
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Reducing Contemporary Prejudice: Combating Explicit and Implicit Bias at the Individual and Intergroup Level

John F. Dovidio Kerry Kawakami Colgate University University of Nijmegen

Samuel L. Gaertner University of Delaware

Due in part to changing norms and to th e Civil Rights Act and other legislative interventions that have made discrimination not simply immoral but also illegal, overt expressions of prejudice have declined significantly in the U.S. over the past 35 years ( Dovidio & Gaertner, 1986, 1998; Schuman, Steeh, Bobo, & Krysan, 1997). Prejudice and discrimination, however, continue to exist and to affect the lives of people of color and women in significant ways ( Dovidio & Gaertner, 1998; see also Stephan & Stephan's chapter in this volume). Many current approaches to prejudice based on race, ethnicity, or sex acknowledge the persistence of overt, intentional forms of prejudice, but they also recognize the role of more subtle, unintentional, and, possibly, unconscious forms of bias. These approaches often also consider the role of automatic or unconscious processes and the consequent indirect expressions of bias.

In contrast to "old-fashioned" racism, which is open and blatant, aversive racism represents a subtle, often unintentional, form of bias that is characteristic of many White Americans who possess strong egalitarian values and who believe that they are nonprejudiced ( Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986; Kovel, 1970). The work on aversive racism primarily considers Whites' attitudes toward Blacks, although elsewhere we have demonstrated the generalizability of these processes to attitudes toward Latinos ( Dovidio, Gaertner, Anastasio, & Sanitioso, 1992) and women ( Dovidio & Gaertner, 1983). We propose that understanding the nature of contemporary forms of bias, such as aversive racism, can inform the development of strategies and interventions designed to reduce prejudice.

Prejudice is an unfair negative attitude toward a social group or a person perceived to be a member of that group. Like other attitudes, prejudice is con

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