Behavioral Responses to Discrimination: A Focus on Action
Richard N. Lalonde James E. Cameron York University
In this chapter, we focus on what many social psychologists studying prejudice consider to be its behavioral component--discrimination. Our emphasis is not on the behavior of the discriminator, however, but on the individuals for whom the consequences of discrimination are devastating. These are the victims of discrimination. In addition, we focus on overt behaviors (i.e., actions) that are taken in response to discrimination rather than covert behaviors (i.e., affect and cognition), because it is the actions taken by victims of discrimination that are most likely to bring about a change in the status of the disadvantaged groups of which they are members.
The first part of this chapter examines social psychological approaches that bear on the responses of victims of discrimination. It is argued that theories of intergroup relations hold considerable promise for the study of responses to discrimination (e.g., social identity theory). Although these theories are not formulated explicitly for the study of discrimination, they are formulated from the perspective of disadvantaged group members, they involve a consideration of overt behaviors that can lead to change, and they can be used to guide future research on the subject of discrimination. The behaviors discussed within these theories are contrasted with behaviors of victims of discrimination presented in seminal work on prejudice (e.g., Allport, 1954). Finally, examples of research that focus on the behavior of disadvantaged and discriminated individuals are described, along with a brief presentation of Tajfel ( 1978) interpersonal- intergroup behavior continuum as a framework for understanding the interpretation of different situations of discrimination. The second part of this chapter focuses on research we conducted that explores the range of responses that can be taken in different situations of discrimination and the behavioral dimensions