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New intervention helps promote tolerance in individuals

Date:
March 19, 2013
Source:
University of Kent
Summary:
Psychologists have shown that diversity promotes tolerance towards different groups if it catches people by surprise. 
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Psychologists have shown that diversity promotes tolerance towards different groups if it catches people by surprise.

In a paper published by PLoS ONE, Dr Milica Vasiljevic of the University of Kent and Professor Richard Crisp of the University of Sheffield explain how they conducted a series of experiments in which participants (British undergraduates) thought of surprising combinations of social categories such as overweight model, rich student, female firefighter or male midwife.

Thinking of people with a surprising, unfamiliar background led to a reduction of prejudice towards multiple stigmatised groups such as the elderly, disabled, asylum seekers, HIV patients, or gay men. It also fostered generalised tolerance and egalitarian beliefs.

Importantly, through a field test in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a region with a history of violent ethnic conflict, the researchers demonstrated that a brief and cost-effective intervention based on this technique can increase trust and reconciliatory tendencies towards multiple ethnic groups such as Gypsies, Albanians, Serbs and Greeks.

The research also demonstrated that considering people with a surprising background can encourage lateral thinking and lead to more openness and greater cognitive flexibility.

Dr Vasiljevic said: 'Promoting tolerance for diversity is one of the key challenges the UK and other countries are facing. However, for decades the problem of how to achieve tolerance towards multiple groups in society has eluded scientists. This novel intervention presents a first step towards developing viable intervention strategies that target prejudice towards more than one group in society, with the aim of promoting a more tolerant society in general.'

Professor Crisp added: 'The success of this novel task underscores the importance of cognitive factors in effects to reduce prejudice, and highlights the need to challenge not only negative beliefs about specific social groups, but also the way in which we think about groups in general.'


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Kent. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Milica Vasiljevic, Richard J. Crisp. Tolerance by Surprise: Evidence for a Generalized Reduction in Prejudice and Increased Egalitarianism through Novel Category Combination. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (3): e57106 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057106

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University of Kent. "New intervention helps promote tolerance in individuals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319091303.htm>.
University of Kent. (2013, March 19). New intervention helps promote tolerance in individuals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319091303.htm
University of Kent. "New intervention helps promote tolerance in individuals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319091303.htm (accessed August 27, 2015).

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