Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination

By Stuart Oskamp | Go to book overview

warm. These dynamics result in two primary clusters of outgroups -- those subject to paternalistic prejudice (dependent, incompetent, low-status, but maybe warm) and those subject to envious prejudice (independent, competent, high-status, but not warm). Interventions to reduce prejudice toward both kinds of groups might focus on increasing group-level positive interdependence, and on reducing the sense of differential status at the group level. On the first point, to the extent that groups realize that they are not in direct competition, but in fact need each other, they share overarching goals -- long a prescription in intergroup relations. On the second point, to the extent that groups can be persuaded that no group as a whole utterly dominates any other group as a whole, they will be less resentful upward and less paternalistic downward. Becoming aware of the variability of outcomes within any given group and the overlapping distributions of outcomes across groups may undermine some of the group-status effects.

Finally, also at the societal level, and most relevant to this volume, the principles of interdependence explain effective intergroup contact that undercuts people's spontaneous, default, category-based impressions. Returning to the vignette at the beginning of this chapter, just as the national warehouse chain had recognized its dependence on ethnic minorities as customers and therefore employed them as sales staff, so it also came to realize its comparable need for women in sales. We may hope that, over time, in educational settings, both majorities and minorities will realize that they need to learn from each other, in order to function competently and comfortably in the diverse population of the 21st century (cf. Johnson & Johnson, this volume). Recognition of the role of interdependence in reducing prejudice dates back nearly 50 years (e.g., Allport, 1954; see Pettigrew, 1998, for a review), but our research program has helped to explain some individual psychological processes that underlie intergroup contact, making it more effective in reducing prejudice. That is the goal we hope to reach.


REFERENCES

Allport G. ( 1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Brewer M. B., & Brown R. J. ( 1998). Intergroup relations. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology ( 4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 554-594). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Bruner J. S., & Tagiuri R. ( 1954). The perception of people. In G. Lindzey (Ed.), The handbook of social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 634-654). Reading MA: Addison-Wesley.

Chen S., Lee-Chai A. Y., & Bargh J. A. ( 1998). Does power always corrupt? Relationship orientation as a moderator of the effects of social power. Unpublished manuscript, New York University.

Dépret E. F., & Fiske S. T. ( 1999). "Perceiving the powerful: Intriguing individuals versus threatening groups". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 461-480.

Eberhardt J., & Fiske S. T. ( 1996). Motivating individuals to change: What is a target to do? In N. Macrae, M. Hewstone, & C. Stangor (Eds.), Foundations of stereotypes and stereotyping (pp. 369-415). New York: Guilford.

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