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    >> Literature Review on Prejudice Reduction
 

Commentaries

Fisk (2002) stated that stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination reflect one’s cognitive, affective, and behavioral reactions to people from other groups. The word ‘group’ itself underlines that society is full of diversity and classification. However, although people can learn and understand diversity, it is easier for them to stereotype and compare. They realize this negative thinking pattern early in childhood, as stereotyping in the media and books create the foundation for prejudiced adults (Klein, 1992). The media dictates what is beautiful and what is not; or what trend deserves praise. Popular stories depict ugliness, deformities and disabilities to being evil, reflected in the likes of Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel (Klein, 1992). This depiction creates groups or subgroups, for example, “those who are beautiful” or “those who are ugly”. Normally, a person experiences prejudice when he or she is different or belongs in a minority group. In the United States, Blacks experience prejudice for no reason at all but having their color (Sears and Henry, 2003). The documentary film ‘Bowling for Columbine’ showed this. Even without seeing the suspect, relatives of victims usually associate crimes to Blacks. Social dominance plays a part in this prejudice game, as explored by many researchers (Guimond et al, 2003). The link between social dominance and prejudice is obvious, as displayed by the how Caucasians dominate over other colors and how Christians dominate over other religion. This suggests that some stable feature of individuals, such as personality or enduring beliefs, may cause a generalized disposition to adopt prejudiced and ethnocentric attitudes (Duckitt et al, 2002). Prejudice starts within an individual as a psychological encounter. Margo et al (2002) cited there is a widespread agreement that there is automatic activation of stereotypes and implicit (unconscious) prejudices when one meets a group member and identifies the person's skin color, facial features, gender characteristics, and the like. On activation, stereotypes apply without awareness or conscious intent (Margo et al, 2002).

According to Dovidio, Kawakami and Gaertner (2002), attitudes can either be implicit or explicit. This applies to prejudice because it is also a form of attitude. Individuals might prejudice others without intending to do so. Explicit attitudes apply traditional self-report measures. On the other hand, implicit attitudes automatically activate by the mere presence of the attitude object and commonly function without a person's full awareness or control (Dovidio, Kawakami and Gaetner, 2002). Implicit attitude on prejudice is more fatal and difficult to pinpoint because of its subtle characteristics.

While both explicit and implicit attitudes influence behavior in many ways, they are different. The latter is different in a sense that it shapes deliberative, well-considered responses for which people have the motivation and opportunity to weigh the costs and benefits of various courses of action (Dovidio, Kawakami and Gaetner, 2002). Besides, implicit attitudes such as implicit prejudice influence responses that are more difficult to oversee. They also influence control or responses that people do not view as signals of their attitude and thus do not try to control (Dovidio, Kawakami and Gaetner, 2002).

Cognitive psychologists and many critical thinkers view prejudice as a ‘faulty generalization’ (Weinstein, 1990). It means cognitive processes that result in generalizing from nonrepresentative instances to the characteristics of a group decide prejudices and the stereotyping behaviors associated with them (Weinstein, 1990). The final analysis also shows that lack of self-esteem and sexual fears also result to prejudices (Weinstein, 1990).

As mentioned earlier, people see one another as members of groups. Groups can be in-groups or groups where an individual identifies; and out-groups, where the individual have no direct or indirect identification (Weinstein, 1990). There are five important factors in cognitive literatures that affect out-group and in-group differentiation. Robarth et al (1984) identified the five and refer the first two with the in-groups: their characteristic traits are more desirable and more natural; they have more trait varieties that characterize them. On the other hand, the last three refers to the out-groups. Higher abstraction characterizes them, and their characteristics in description and explanations are less specific than those on in-group members. Out-group members are also more extreme, both in their differences from in-group members and characteristics branding or familiarizing them. Further, people encode out-group behaviors differently and in a manner that reflects stereotypes and prior expectations (Robarth et al, 1984). As told, out-groups subject to prejudices and stereotypes, because logically, the in-groups favor the characteristics and behavior of their group more than out-groups.

Compared with out-groups, in-group differentiation is an evolutionary phenomenon. It involves differentiation of social landscape into those within the group and those that fall outside the boundary (Brewer, 1999). Its boundaries can shift from person to person, or context to context to be more or less inclusive, dictated by local conditions and individual needs (Brewer, 1999). The relationship between in-group and out-group creates a cycle, or at least their distinctions shape opportunities and social interaction for cooperation, imitation and interdependence (Brewer, 1999). The root of this phenomenon of classification is that humans adopt the characteristic of compulsory interdependence, or in other words, to rely on others for survival (Brewer, 1997, 1999). This leads to develop in-groups where mutual trusts and cooperation must exist, as well as contingent altruism. However, trusts and loyalty to one’s in-group might lead to the biasness of defending their in-group characteristics from out-groups. Brewer (1999, p.434) stated that “discrimination between in-groups and out-groups is a matter of relative favoritism toward the in-group and the absence of equivalent favoritism toward the out-group”. He stated that prejudice can emerge from the in-groups by: moral superiority; perceived threat; common values and social comparison, and; power politics. When the moral rule is absolute and the out-groups do not subscribe with it, denigration and contempt replace indifference (Brewer, 1999). Further, perceived threat can also be a basis when the in-groups compete over physical resources and political power with the out-groups (Brewer, 1999). This can take place in the early education setting where children compete for attention and recognition with other students. On the other hand, the differences between common goals of the in-groups and out-groups can also create tension as it threatens differentiation. Common values and social comparison also applies with their differences, as relatively advantaged in-groups seek to keep or exaggerate the positive comparison...

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Interventions

Pate (1995) listed and discussed certain types of approaches in reducing prejudices in the classroom setting. The approaches include: cognitive approaches; direct approaches; shared-coping approaches; variety of classroom approaches; and audiovisual approaches (Pate, 1995).

The most often used approach among those is the cognitive approach. Cognitive approach’s principle is that people can reduce prejudice if they know more about other groups and think more clearly (Pate, 1995). We can link this with the psychological explanation of prejudice discussed earlier – that faulty thinking and lack of clear knowledge on the out-group result in prejudice. Cognitive approach tactics can either be informational or integrated. Pate (1995) stated that approaches must incorporate both those two tactics to be effective.  For instance, to be informational, the teacher might consider lectures, filmstrips and discussion; while to be integrated, the instructor might consider inviting people who are the target of the prejudice reduction program.  Pate (1995) stated that intervention efforts which include empathy as well as increased knowledge and understanding of other groups are effective. 

On the other hand, the direct approach in reducing prejudice is an approach where in the instructor or teacher directs or literally orders the students to take part on an antiprejudice program. Examples of these include assigning them to read books, integrating a weekly class about prejudice, and many others (Pate, 1995). However, Pate (1995) stated that this is the least effective approach as students may resent the instructions, which might hold or increase their prejudice level. Delayed measures are the only solution to create attitude change with direct approach in the long-run.

Meanwhile, another means of reducing prejudice is the shared-coping approach. Learning teams or the cooperative learning idea is another term for it. Here, implementers build learning teams comprised of different races and ethnicity. General approach involves engaging the teams into games and tournaments, and the team should win or experience success for the technique to work. However, cooperative experience that does not involve competition...

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Research Studies

Monteit et al (2002) looked into how control can exert over (automatic) prejudiced responses. With reference on a model that settles and handles cues for control, their study sought to increase understanding of how to control and change prejudice responses automatically. The study consists of four experiments. The first two experiments test whether events are necessary for developing cues for control. They used false physiological feedback procedure to make sure that participants did believe they had engaged in prejudiced responses. In experiment 1, they used manipulation checks. On the other hand, they conducted experiment 2 using a thought-listing task to find out the extent to which inability to control negative arousal preoccupies participants. Participants for experiment 1 consist of forty White participants, surveyed with ‘Attitude Toward Black Scale’. On the other hand, experiment 2 consists of 38 White participants surveyed with Modern Racism Scale. They also used picture viewing where racial pictures included Blacks. They also showed nonracial pictures. The respondents revealed that low-prejudice individuals showed evidence of behavioral reserve following prejudiced responses. They also showed a brief interruption in continuing behavior when presented with feedback that they had negative reactions to pictures of Blacks.

On the other hand, experiments 3 and 4 examined the established cues’ operation and effects for control. Experiment 3 found that when they present Blacks in stereotypic contents to low-prejudice individuals, the latter experiences a brief interruption of continuing behavior. Finally, in experiment 4, they provide participants with experiences which they can set up cues. Presenting those cues in a different task showed behavioral inhibition and less racially biased responses (Monteit et al, 2002).

Dovidio, Kawakami and Gaertner (2002) explored how implicit racial associations and explicit racial attitudes of Whites relate with behaviors and impressions in interracial interactions. The respondents were fifteen male and 25 female White undergraduates. The researchers examined their racial implicit attitudes, and the impressions of Whites and Blacks on their interracial attitude. In measuring the problem, they used a decision task in which they first presented the participants with priming stimuli and then asked them to decide about a word that followed. Their findings showed that White participants and their partners relied on different information and formed different impressions of their interaction. They also found that Whites' explicit racial attitudes reflects...

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Conclusion

The literature review found that prejudice can start early in childhood because of how the culture and different types of media portray differences and diversity to children. Because of cultural beliefs and the media, children adopt early the idea that groups and subgroups have differences, just like how beautiful is different from ugliness, and how being tall is different from being small. Prejudice starts as a psychological encounter, identifying and interpreting the other person's skin color, facial features, gender characteristics, and others.

The review also found that prejudice is a cognitive process, which involves generalization. Nonrepresentative instances to the characteristics of a group decide prejudices and the stereotyping behaviors associated with them. This may involve lack of self-esteem or sexual fears.

How people brand in-groups and out-groups is also a problem. Out-groups experience more prejudices simply because they do not belong inside the in-group circle. In-groups compete with out-groups in many ways, which creates conflict and develops prejudice views.

Because prejudice starts early in childhood, literatures suggested that prejudice reduction should start in that stage. Children still know how to suppress their prejudices. However, by the age of 10, they can rapidly develop prejudice attitudes because they start to become autonomous. They internalize fundamental moral norms and begin to regulate internally their own moral behavior. Thus, there is a potential of preventing prejudice attitude early in childhood through...

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