Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination

By Stuart Oskamp | Go to book overview
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Moderators and Mediators of Prejudice Reduction in Multicultural Education
Michele A. Wittig Ludwin Molina California State University, NorthridgeThe contact hypothesis ( Allport, 1954/ 1979) is among the most often researched psychological principles for reducing racial/ethnic prejudice ( Brewer & Brown, 1998; Cook, 1985; Pettigrew, 1986; Stephan & Brigham, 1985). It emphasizes the social situation, aims to change individual prejudiced attitudes, and proposes several conditions necessary for intergroup contact to be successful in reducing prejudice and enhancing tolerance. Prominent among these conditions in Allport's original formulation were:
1. normative support by authority figures;
2. equal status of participants within the situation (e.g., via role assignments);
3. cooperative interdependence among participants; and
4. individualized association or personal contact (e.g., having the potential to promote friendships).

In this chapter, our contribution to the literature on contact theory is threefold. First, we consider two paradoxes: (1) Is intergroup contact a problem that precipitates racial/ethnic conflict or a solution to it? and (2) Is social recategorzation a positive or a negative influence on interracial/ethnic prejudice? Both paradoxes are based on the premise that contact between racial/ethnic and other culturally-distinct groups is likely to bring their respective values, traditions, perspectives, or interests into potential competition. Using the moderator-mediator distinction of Baron and Kenny ( 1986), we conceptualize the first dilemma as asking about the nature and the sign of important moderators of the contactprejudice relationship, and the second as specifying competing views of the mediators of this relationship. Both paradoxes have implications for the design, implementation, and evaluation of multicultural educational programs.


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Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination
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