“We found that participants who were confronted felt bad about their behavior, ruminated more, showed an enduring prejudice reduction,” a researcher said
Get into it with your bigoted aunt this Christmas.
It may actually change her behavior, a new Rutgers University study suggests. “We found that participants who were confronted felt bad about their behavior, ruminated more, showed an enduring prejudice reduction,” co-author Diana Sanchez, a professor of psychology, said in a statement. “And we didn’t just look at their immediate response, but looked at them a week later.”
Also read: How do you deal with bigotry from a boss?
The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, asked groups of white university students to draw inferences from several images coupled with sentences, looking to elicit a stereotypical reaction. The researchers then either let the comments slide or intervened to point out the bigotry.
One example: If a picture of an African-American man paired with “This man spends a lot of time behind bars” drew a response casting him as a criminal, a researcher might either stay quiet or call out the comment as stereotypical, arguing he could be a bartender.
Participants returned a week later to assess a new set of images and sentences. When asked whether they had thought about stereotyping and their earlier responses, those who’d been confronted said they had, and most engaged in less stereotypical behavior. Another student group that participated in the process, completed online follow-up examinations and answered a questionnaire about their initial experience was also less likely to stereotype than before.
“The present studies,” the authors concluded, “reveal the lasting effects of interpersonal confrontations in prejudice reduction and the process by which these effects endure.”
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