Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination

By Stuart Oskamp | Go to book overview
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tact under certain optimizing conditions have been backed by a great deal of outcome evaluation over many years (cf. Pettigrew & Tropp, in this volume).

A major strength of the multicultural and anti-racist approaches is their ease of application even in relatively homogeneous schools where cross-ethnic contact is minimal. Also, many teachers are willing to use these interventions because they are produced as curriculum units or instruction manuals. Unfortunately, the proposed mechanisms for change -- imitation, paired-associate learning, and conformity-have not received much empirical support in the context of reducing prejudice and discrimination. These interventions have also not been well evaluated. At this point, the anti-racist or anti-bias approach is more promising because prejudice and discrimination are explicitly discussed in the context of race, and children have the opportunity to discuss actively their conflicting views and to find one that is convincing and long-lasting.

A major strength of the empathy and social-cognitive approaches is their support from previous theoretical and empirical work. However, they have not yet developed broad interventions targeting large numbers of students. Because they target emotional and cognitive capabilities -- ones that a child may or may not be ready for -- there is a need to tailor the program to the student population. Also, teachers may not always understand the rationale for the specific interventions, and so may need some special training.

The challenge for future researchers is to evaluate rigorously the many interventions currently used in educational settings, while continuing to examine in more controlled settings the mechanisms underlying prejudice reduction. Because there is not a one-to-one correspondence between prejudice and discrimination, we must also be prepared to implement several intervention programs directed differentially at emotional, cognitive, and behavioral change. Such work also requires a stronger partnership between educators, psychologists, and parents, who need each others' input when designing, evaluating, and implementing interventions. In this process, research on interventions targeting adults (as reviewed in other chapters of this book) goes hand in hand with the childhood interventions described here. We may hope that the next decade of research and program development will provide a blueprint for how to sequence specific interventions throughout the school-age years in order to maximize their impact.


Aboud F. E. ( 1988). Children and prejudice. New York: Blackwell.

Aboud F. E., & Doyle A. B. ( 1996a). "Parental and peer influences on children's racial attitudes". International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 20, 371-383.

Aboud F. E., & Doyle A. B. ( 1996b). "Does talk of race foster prejudice or tolerance in children?" Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 28, 161-170.

Aboud F. E. ( 1999, April). The emergence of racial prejudice in white children: Social cognitive correlates. Paper presented at American Educational Research Association meeting, Montreal.


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