Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination

By Stuart Oskamp | Go to book overview

indicate is appropriate. Acknowledging the inconsistency between their egalitarian ideals and their specific responses toward Blacks should, according to Rokeach, lead to self-dissatisfaction, and may instigate self-regulatory processes aimed at reducing such inconsistencies ( Monteith, 1993).

Applying the value self-confrontation technique successfully with high- prejudice people may require an additional step. Monteith and Walters ( 1998) found that low-prejudice individuals were more likely than their high-prejudice counterparts to construe egalitarianism in terms of equal opportunity and protection of the rights of all people. In contrast, high-prejudice individuals construed egalitarianism in terms of the Protestant Work Ethic (i.e., getting only what one works for). Moreover, construing egalitarianism as equal opportunity led to a sense of moral obligation to live up to one's personal standards regarding how to respond to Blacks. Such feelings of moral obligation may be necessary to promote long-term change. Thus, changing the way high-prejudice people view egalitarianism, so that they see it as meaning equal opportunity for all, may be critical for Rokeach's procedure to be maximally effective.

Rokeach's value self-confrontation procedure is interesting because it does not explicitly challenge people's specific prejudiced attitudes, but instead it provides a condition under which people can discover for themselves the implications that their values have for their reactions to Black people. It may be the subtlety of the technique that produces its effectiveness -- and also the fact that it allows people to consider privately the possibility that their prejudiced attitudes may be unfair. The privacy of this technique may circumvent the kind of anger and resentment displayed by individuals who are highly sensitive to antiprejudice social pressure and who do not privately embrace those views (i.e., low-internal, high-external individuals).

Although the challenges associated with reducing prejudiced attitudes remain daunting, we are optimistic that such changes can be created. By understanding the importance of anger in the process of resistance and backlash, we may be better able to harness normative pressure and combine it with efforts designed to help develop internalized nonprejudiced beliefs. Our hope is that, over time, these efforts will be successful in encouraging high-prejudice people to renounce prejudice and join their internally motivated counterparts in trying to break the prejudice habit.


NOTES
1.
All analyses were conducted using hierarchical regression. To determine low and high levels of discrepancies, we used one standard deviation below and above the mean respectively.
2.
Scales of internal and external motivation to respond without prejudice have been developed for the areas of sexism ( Klonis & Devine, 1999), homophobia ( Lemm & Banaji, 1999), and prejudice toward fat people ( Buswell & Devine, 1999). In all cases the internal and external scales were independent.

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