future, it remains a potent roadblock for some service-learning practitioners to initiate effective antiprejudice service-learning.
The theory of the totalitarian ego helps to highlight the complex nature of attitude change. Changing prejudice or other deeply held beliefs is a very difficult enterprise that is linked to factors necessary to our recognition and maintenance of our sense of self. Changing prejudice involves no less than a change in a person's recognition and organization of their ego. No wonder prejudice is so difficult to change!
Taken together with the cautions suggested by contact theory, we get a more complete picture of the challenges facing those who would engage in service-learning as an antiprejudice pedagogy. Contact theory proposes a set of minimum conditions in which attitude change may occur (i.e., pursuit of common goals, equal status contact, contact that contradicts stereotypes, long-term contact, and social norms favoring contact). Fulfilling fewer than the minimum conditions may actually increase prejudice as individuals engage in more and more frequent ego-defensive strategies (the cognitive equivalent of digging in one's heels). Making sure that all five conditions are present raises the probability that the inherent defensiveness of the self might be eased and authentic prejudice reduction will take place.
This research was supported in part by a grant from the Corporation for National Service, as a subgrant of the Service-Learning and Teacher Education (SLATE) project of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education-- Joost Yff, National Project Director.
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