Reducing Prejudice: The Target's Perspective
Brenda Major Wendy J. Quinton Shannon K. McCoy Toni Schmader University of California, Santa Barbara
In all societies, some individuals are stigmatized -- they possess attributes or identities that are socially devalued and denigrated, and that subject them to prejudice and discrimination in some contexts ( Crocker, Major, & Steele, 1998). The ubiquity and devastating consequences of prejudice, both for the stigmatized and for society more broadly, have led to a tremendous amount of theory and research on the origins of prejudice. Social psychologists, for example, have theorized that prejudice results from group conflict (e.g., Sherif, Harvey, White, Hood, & Sherif, 1961), negative stereotypes (e.g., Hamilton & Sherman, 1994); ingroup/outgroup differences (e.g., Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987), threats to the self ( Pyszczynski, Greenberg, Solomon, & Hamilton, 1991), and attempts to justify unequal distributions of power and resources ( Sidanius & Pratto, 1993), among other factors.
Theory and research addressing ways to reduce prejudice, in contrast, are far less common. And theory and research addressing the role that the stigmatized themselves may play in reducing prejudice are almost nonexistent (for exceptions, see Eberhardt & Fiske, 1996; Kirk & Madsen, 1989). The current chapter ventures into this uncharted territory by considering prejudice reduction from the perspective of the stigmatized. Our goal is to present a conceptual framework for thinking about how targets of prejudice might help to reduce prejudice. This framework is grounded in theories of stress and coping as well as social psychological theories of the origins of prejudice.
We believe that psychologists have ignored the target's potential role in prejudice reduction for several reasons. First, it is often more difficult to study prejudice from the perspective of the stigmatized than it is to study it from the perspective of members of the dominant group -- in part because members of