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Prejudice and discrimination continues to be a crucial and compelling topic in the field of psychology. Prejudice is universally defined as an unjust pessimistic mind-set towards a collective group or an affiliate of that group. Stereotypes, which are overviews about a group or its associates that are accurately inaccurate, are a number of values that can convoy the pessimistic beliefs connected with prejudice. According to Jones (1997) prejudice occurs through such factors as socialization to which is also supported by the beliefs and the attitudes of our family and friends. Bias can arise in much different formations, and accordingly psychology has contributed to assessing prejudice and bias by a collection of measures. Psychology has contributed to the potential solutions of prejudices by undertaking measures to which include consistent examination of prejudice toward other social groups, stereotypes, appraisals of judgment about social groups and interaction and friendship patterns. Over many years evident prejudice has declined significantly due to legislative interventions or such acts as the Civil Rights Act; to which made discrimination illegal. However contemporary forms of prejudice still exist in our society today. Psychological contribution to the research of prejudice has demonstrated from results and studies that contemporary examples of prejudice may be entrenched in either individual processes, such as cognitive and motivational biases and socialization, or intergroup processes such as realistic group.
According to Gordon Allport (1954) cited in Gaines (1995) in his literature ‘the nature of prejudice’, he states that prejudice is the consequence of two causes; which are hostility and incorrect generalizations. Hostility is believed to be “considered a general factor related to arousal, affect, and cognition” (Gaines 1995). Allport also argues that behaviour indicators of hostility which are directed to particular groups relate to the second cause of prejudice to which is incorrect generalizations. Allport, states that individuals who are prejudice often make incorrect generalizations about particular individuals; who then become objects of hostility, from persons who are prejudice. Allport (1954) also explains that prejudice is an attitude; he states that prejudice is an; “… antipathy based on faulty and inflexible generalisation directed towards a group as a whole or towards an individual because he is a member of that group. It may be felt or expressed”; (Allport 1954). Allport elaborates that there are three components to prejudice; to which are cognitive, affective and conactive. Cognitive; entails the set of beliefs a person obtains towards the object, the component affective; is where by a person has both strong and hostile feelings towards the object. Finally conative; is whereby there are a set of intention to which the individual believes they should behave towards the object. There are a number of types of prejudice, from; racial prejudice, sexual prejudice, Age related, and prejudice related to homosexuals and the disabled, to which I shall demonstrate psychological contributions to the potential solutions of a number of forms of prejudice below.
The two largest forms of prejudice can be argued to be both racial prejudice and sexual prejudice.
Racial prejudice; consists of two components; which are Old fashioned racism and Aversion racism. Old fashioned racism is racism that is whereby an individual is openly and obviously obtains negative and discriminating stereotypes of another individual or group based on their racial classification of association. Furthermore Aversive racism to which was explained by Gaertner & Dovido (1986) states that aversive racism is theorised in order to characterize the approaches of white individuals who validate egalitarian values, and who also do not regard themselves as prejudice, however discriminating in a subtle way. It is believed by the perspective of aversive racism, that those who support egalitarian principles; unconsciously obtain negative feeling and beliefs towards black individuals (Gaertner & Dovido 1986). Furthermore sexual prejudice is often defined as the male domination of females. Literature expresses that there are two components of sexual prejudice to which are hostile sexism; a form of sexism where by it is believed that women are inferior to men and are also weak and irrational. Hostile sexism incorporates the negative parallels on each aspect such as “dominative paternalism, derogatory beliefs, and heterosexual hostility” (Glick & Fiske 1997). On the other hand benevolent sexism is referred to as ‘positive sexism’ this is the emphasis whereby female roles are idealised. Benevolent sexism incorporates outlooks toward women in traditional roles (Glick & Fiske 1997).
Contributions from psychology
Allport obtained a contact hypothesis; this hypothesis expressed that the contact between members of different groups under conditions to which were appropriate would promote a “â€¦more harmonious intergroup relation”; between the involved groups (Turner et al 2007). According to Turner (2007) recent development and research from psychology portrays that certain types of contact are effective at reducing prejudice, an example of contact is that of cross group friendship. It is believed that cross group friendship is potentially effective at reducing prejudice. It is believed that in order for prejudice to be reduced then there should be an increased understanding of friendship to which would help aid more effective interventions to improve intergroup relations (Turner et al 2007). Contact theory has been extended in new directions. Pettigrew and Tropp’s (2006) meta-analytic effort gives you an idea that contact effects are as good for groups apart from races and ethnicities. Additionally, researchers have begun to examine moderators of contact’s effects. For example, contact in the form of cross-group friendships or structured under Allport’s optimal conditions typically promotes greater reductions in intergroup prejudice.
Intergroup contact has illustrated that higher quality of contact is comfortable and pleasant to the extent that it is associated with more positive out-group attitudes. Cross group friendship implies that of high quality to which illustrates that friendship would be a very effective component of reducing prejudice. A contribution from psychology to the potential solution of prejudice is a study conducted by Pettigrew (1997). Pettigrew conducted a study to which incorporated over 300 majority group participants, from seven samples from the Netherlands, France the United Kingdom and West Germany. The respondents were asked to report their attitudes toward large minority groups in their country and whether they had friends of another religion, class, race or nationality. Analysis of the results of this study illustrated that those with intergroup friends were more liberal about immigration policy, and they were more likely to believe that the presence of immigrants was a good thing for their countries future. This therefore shows the reduced prejudice that exists if individuals have intergroup friends as their views are more liberal and accepting.
An additional psychological contribution is a longitudinal study to which was conducted by Levin et al (2003) which were on the relationship between direct cross group friendship and subsequent in-group bias among a large sample of college students, whom were of White, Asian, African American and Latino origin. Results from this study illustrated that students who had more out-group friends in their second and third years were less biased in relation to their favoured ethnic group at the end of their fourth year. This psychological contribution to the solution of prejudice exemplifies that prejudice can be reduced to a certain extent if individuals are to obtain outer-group friends to which biases and prejudice is likely to decrease over the years.
Furthermore; psychology contributes that efforts to condense direct, racial prejudice is necessary to characteristically engrosses educational approaches to develop knowledge and appreciation of other racial groups; an example of methods would be programmes such as “…multicultural education programmes” (Dovidio & Gaertner 1999), educational approaches also put emphasis on the rule that prejudice is not acceptable, and involves direct persuasive strategies such as mass media appeals. An additional contribution from psychology towards the potential solutions of prejudice is a study conducted by Hodson & Esses (2005) explains the opinionated solutions to the reduction of ethnic prejudice. Participants in this study believed that the factors to help eliminate ethnic prejudice incorporate factors such as; education, media influence and also increased intergroup contact. The majority at 69.2% believed that education was the best suited solution. The study also illustrated results that relate to solution and perceived causes of prejudice. It is perceived that prejudice is caused by intergroup processes and is also related to the belief that active social change, such as ensuring that equal access to resources across groups is required to reduce prejudice. (Hodson & Esses 2005)
Psychology has also contributed to the potential solutions to prejudice in many other ways. Wright et al (1997) conducted two studies to which illustrates that white individuals who had one in-group friend who had an out-group friend were more than likely to have a lower level of prejudice towards that group compared to individuals who did not have any out-group friends or extended out-group friends. Furthermore, if a participant had an increased amount of extended out-group friends their prejudice on a whole was lessened (Wright et al 1997).
Extended contact has also been effectively used as an intercession to condense prejudice between school children. Cameron et al (2006) conducted a study whereby an intervention occurred to which school children were read stories about refugees and in-group members, after the intervention young children from the ages of five to the age of eleven, illustrated a more positive attitude towards refugees compared to other children. (Cameron et al, 2006). This therefore shows that psychologies contribution exemplifies that imagined contact is a factor to which could help reduce prejudice to an extent, commonly in young individuals. An additional study, which shows psychological contribution to potential solutions to prejudice, is a research study conducted by; Liebkind & McAlister (1999). The research incorporated students from Finland who read stories about in-group peers who had close friends which were considered to be foreigners. Results from research illustrated that acceptance of foreigners amplified or stayed stable within the education institute to which the intervention was introduced (Liebkind & McAlister 1999). This again is an additional contribution to which relates to the fact that direct contact is not necessary in order for prejudice to be reduced, and therefore imagined contact again can be argued to be a potential solution to prejudice in society.
Research of imagined interaction can be argued to be significant to the extent that it potentially reduces prejudice. It illustrates that physical experience of contact with out-groups is not the only form of contact which has benefits for intergroup relations. Extended contacts has shown that it is constructive to the extent when there is decreased opportunities as it does not rely on personal experience; however relying on the contact within an individual’s social network. This contribution from psychology has possibly helped policy makers consider and develop interventions to reduce prejudice in society as interventions and research previously exercised has suggested that contact is more powerful in improving intergroup relations than was once thought.
Likewise research on sexual prejudice in adults by Herek & Capitanio (1996) exemplifies evidence, that having intergroup contact with a homosexual individual leads to reduced prejudice towards homosexuals and there is also evidence of improved attitudes. Additionally Herek & Capitanio (1996) sate that in relation to adolescence, the level of contact with homosexuals could be important to an extent, it has been argued that adolescents are prone to have increased attitudes; however their attitudes are more likely to be moderate if they are not directly confronted with homosexuals. This can be compared to aversive and coversive racism. An example of this is research conducted by Dovidio & Gaertner (2004); whereby participants claimed non prejudicial attitudes, however when confronted with a situation while they had to interact with an individual from another race they demonstrated prejudice attitudes. This can relate to adolescents who do not have any relation or contact with homosexuals and claim to be non prejudice to homosexuals. Herek & Capitanio state that if adolescents were actually confronted with homosexuals in the social environments then there attitudes may considerably be different (Herek & Capitanio 1996).
According to Kosslyn; (1970) images can resemble any of the sensory modalities, however, visual imagery appears the most common type of imagery experienced by people and the most well studied. A mental image is a representation of a particular incentive that is formed by activation of a sensory system and, thus, is experienced by the organism as having similar qualities to the actual perception of the stimulus through sensory input (Dadds et al. 1997). Roche and McConkey (1990) emphasise on the concept absorption. Absorption is whereby an individual has the ability to produce images. “…Absorption refers to a person’s ability to immerse himself or herself and become fully involved in various experiences, this includes not only the ability to generate vivid images; but to respond to them as if they were real” (Dadds et al 1997). This therefore creates the effect to which an individual is highly absorbed their generated images evoke similar responses as the actual stimuli would. (Dadds et al1997).
Furthermore in further studies conducted by Crisp & Turner (2009) it was found that participants who were asked to imagine a positive interaction with an out-group member, consequently articulated much more positive thoughts and illustrated less stereotyped attitudes compared to those who did not participate. In an additional study conducted by Crisp & Turner (2009) a focus on heterosexual attitudes towards homosexual men was exercised. Results from this study in relation to imagined contact showed that participants who envisioned talking to a homosexual man on public transport consequently viewed homosexual men in a more positive way and did not stereotype them as much (Crisp & Turner 2009) . Crisp & Turner (2009) demonstrate an intervention of imagined intergroup contact to which is believed to increase and improve intergroup relations. Psychologies contribution of imagined intergroup contact has exemplified that this approach is effective. A potential solution of prejudice from psychology is; imagined intergroup contact for the reason that it encourages individuals to mentally stimulate a constructive encounter from an out-group; this to an extent endorses positive attitudes to the involved group. This contribution from psychology of imagined consent can be argued to potentially be a solution for prejudice for the reason that; according to Crisp & Taylor (2009) imagined contact “…provides a firmly grounded intervention strategy with significant potential application for policymakers and educators seeking to promote tolerance for social diversity” (Crisp & Turner 2009).
Moreover a study on the effects of direct and indirect cross group friendships between Catholics and Protestants’ demonstrates results to which illustrate that religious denomination is not a obstruction to personal friendships . However Trew (1986) states that, “…Religious denomination is not a barrier to personal friendship. However, the influence of such relationships on social understanding and beliefs about the other group has not been established.” Additionally present research has assisted to the conclusion that personal friendship can actually help reduce prejudice even when contact occurs within a background of intergroup conflict. This therefore portrays that having friends who are out- group members and having friends who have out-group friends can contribute constructively to improved intergroup relations. Pettigrew, (1997) confirmed that out-group friendship extensively envisages enhanced out-group attitudes. The research conducted by Poaloni and Hewstone et al (2004) involving Catholics and Protestants supports the prediction and the claim that the number of direct cross group friendships would significantly reduce the prejudice amongst Catholics and Protestants. Direct cross-group friendship demonstrated a direct negative effect on prejudice; this study also demonstrated that indirect cross group friendship also affected prejudice significantly, however only indirectly. This can be argued to be a psychological contribution to the potential solution of prejudice for the reason that as a result of this study, direct and indirect cross-group friendship illustrate and predict both reduced prejudice and increased group variability toward the foe group; to which these predictions have been supported in this research study.
Finally contact theory has been extended in new directions. Pettigrew and Tropp’s (2006) meta-analytic effort gives you an idea about that contact effects are as good for groups apart from races and ethnicities. Additionally, researchers have begun to examine moderators of contact’s effects. For example, contact in the form of cross-group friendships or structured under Allport’s optimal conditions typically promotes greater reductions in intergroup prejudice.(Cited in Gaertner & Dovidio 1999)
To conclude, one can argue that psychology has contributed to a large extent towards the solution to prejudice. There are diverse examples to exemplify in psychological literature such as the study conducted by Levin et al (2003) on the relationship between direct cross group friendships. Results from this study show a reduction of prejudice to a certain extent if individuals are to obtain outer-group friends to which biases and prejudice are likely to decrease over a few years. Psychology has also contributed to the extent with the factor of imagined contact; such examples are of the study conducted by Crisp & Turner (2009). Participants, who were asked to imagine a positive interaction with an out-group member, whereby results illustrated more positive thoughts to out-group members. Research of imagined interaction can be argued to be significant to the extent that it potentially reduces prejudice. It illustrates that physical experience of contact with out-groups is not the only form of contact which has benefits for intergroup relations. Imagined contact can be considered to help policy makers consider and develop interventions to reduce prejudice in society. Psychology has also contributed to the potential solutions to prejudice in many other ways. Finally an additional example to illustrate that psychology has contributed to the potential solutions to prejudice are from studies conducted by Wright et al (1997) whereby white individuals who had one in-group friend who had an out-group friend were more than likely to have a lower level of prejudice towards the group involved. This therefore illustrates that if a individual had an increased amount of extended out-group friends then their prejudice on a whole was lessened (Wright et al 1997).
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