Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Majority groups support assimilation, except when they're not majorities

Date:
January 7, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
We generally think that views about how to integrate a diverse society depend on people's positions in that society -- that is, whether they're in the racial, religious, or cultural majority or a member of a minority. In the US, "people tend to believe that blacks prefer pluralism and whites prefer assimilation," says a psychologist. Assimilation asks minorities -- whether newly arrived or historically rooted -- to drop their cultural identities and adopt the ways of the majority.

We generally think that views about how to integrate a diverse society depend on people's positions in that society -- that is, whether they're in the racial, religious, or cultural majority or a member of a minority. In the U.S., "people tend to believe that blacks prefer pluralism and whites prefer assimilation," says University of Delaware psychologist Eric Hehman. Assimilation asks minorities -- whether newly arrived or historically rooted -- to drop their cultural identities and adopt the ways of the majority.

Related Articles


Pluralism recognizes and even celebrates minority cultures, which live cooperatively within the majority culture. Now a study by Hehman -- along with University of Delaware colleagues Samuel L. Gaertner and David C. Wilson; John F. Dovidio of Yale University; Eric W. Mania of Quinsigamond Community College; Rita Guerra of Lisbon University Institute; and Brian M. Friel of Delaware State University -- suggests that our views are more fluid and contextual than that. "The role the group occupies in a particular environment influences its preferences," says Hehman. The study appears in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.

The researchers analyzed questionnaires given to students about integration nationally and on campus at two universities that differ little except in their racial makeup -- the University of Delaware, where 85 percent of the students are white; and Delaware State University, where blacks comprise 75 percent of the student body. The results confirmed the assumption that regarding national life, whites prefer assimilation and blacks pluralism. Unsurprisingly, at the mostly white University of Delaware, whites also wished minorities to assimilate, whereas blacks chose pluralism. At DSU, there was little support for pluralism among either blacks or whites (the latter anomaly might be explained by the fact that many students attend DSU as part-time commuters, so whites' minority status on campus isn't their predominant experience of life). But the strongest finding was also at DSU: "When blacks were the dominant group, in a majority group position, they preferred assimilation in that environment," says Hehman.

What accounts for the flexibility of views on this seemingly fundamental principle? "We take a functional perspective," says Hehman. "Both groups seek to enhance their collective group identities." For the majority, he explains, "the feeling is: the other group can come join us and give up their values. That preference benefits the majority by maintaining the status quo with no cost to them." Meanwhile, "the minority wants to maintain its group-esteem and cultural identity. It's threatening when the majority wants to assimilate them."

Citing the French ban of the Muslim veil as a well-intentioned assimilationist policy with hurtful consequences to a minority, Hehman says the findings could help coexistence in diverse nations. "It's hard to integrate a society to maintain minority identities and not make the majority feel their values are being rejected. Understanding these feelings and motivations could aid practices to satisfy the needs of both groups and avoid harming either one."

The study is entitled, "Group Status Drives Majority and Minority Integration Preferences."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Majority groups support assimilation, except when they're not majorities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120106135948.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, January 7). Majority groups support assimilation, except when they're not majorities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120106135948.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Majority groups support assimilation, except when they're not majorities." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120106135948.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone Limits Chistmas Activities to Stem Ebola Spread

S. Leone Limits Chistmas Activities to Stem Ebola Spread

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) Sierra Leone has launched sweeping efforts to stem the spread of Ebola in the west of the country. While church services will be allowed to go ahead over the festive period, public gatherings and entertainment have been banned. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins