Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Stereotypes and Prejudice

I remember that Ernest (or was it someone else) has given us a sharing about passing judgments and being prejudiced towards certain people/groups that we encounter. While reading one of the ~100 papers i need to revise for, i came upon one paper that discussed the proven methods of reducing stereotypes:

  • There has been a number of studies showing that simply suppressing stereotypic/biased thoughts are not effective to use to control thoughts that we think are socially/personally unacceptable.
  • however, there are some strategies that have been proven to be more effective in reducing activation and application of such thoughts
    • Taking perspective of stereotyped group is a better way of reducing stereotypes than suppressing stereotypes. (Empathy)
    • stereotype activation can be reduced by intensively training people to consciously negate stereotypic associations (refer to this post)
    • stimulate people to concentrate on thoughts that facilitate desirable outcomes rather than suppressing thoughts that are undesirable (think positive!)

of course, all is not without hope. suppressing thoughts of stereotypes can be effective if you personally believe that such thoughts are undesirable (not because you dont want people to dislike you for being judgmental or whatever).

and the good news is: if you really believe that these thoughts are undesirable, you CAN make a positive difference by persuading those who don't. it has been shown that people can be convinced and hence motivated when they realise that stereotyping may have negative consequences for those who are stereotyped.

so, wanna reduce prejudice among your friends? convince them that they are somehow negatively affecting the stereotyped group. And you can help them in developing the above techniques!

Cheers :)

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