Understanding Prejudice
Understanding Prejudice
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The Psychology of Prejudice: An Overview

One Other Important Benefit

One additional benefit of considering the target's perspective is that it can suggest effective ways to reduce prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Although researchers have been reluctant to explore this topic for fear of shifting the burden of prejudice reduction from perpetrators to targets, there is a growing appreciation of the ability targets have to shape interactions with majority group members (Major, Quinton, McCoy, & Schmader, 2000). For instance, Jennifer Eberhardt and Susan Fiske (1996) recommend the following tactics for employees who want to reduce the amount of discrimination they encounter at work:
  • Given the human tendency to think categorically, try to prime other people to categorize you in desirable ways (e.g., by increasing the salience of positive categories such as "educated" or "manager").

  • Emphasize joint goals, common fate, and other areas of similarity with majority group members so that they identify with you and see you as an individual rather than simply as a stereotypic outgroup member.

  • In conversations, meetings, and policy statements, remind majority group members of the values you share, such as a sense of fairness, so that people are encouraged to act in accord with these values.

  • Praise majority group members when they behave in a fair-minded and egalitarian way, both to reinforce their behavior and to establish positive standards of conduct.

  • If possible, try to avoid interacting with majority group members who are at high risk of prejudice and stereotyping: people who are stressed or distracted, who have recently suffered a blow to their self-esteem, who feel threatened or insecure, or who show signs of rigid thinking or high social dominance orientation.

As Janet Swim and Charles Stangor (1998, p. 6) wrote in their book Prejudice: The Target's Perspective, a consideration of target experiences not only improves the quality of research on prejudice, but it "gives a voice to target groups, validates their experiences, helps pinpoint their unique strengths and weaknesses, and can potentially increase empathy for the targets of prejudice in today's society."


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