Friday, May 23, 2014

Most cases of recent prejudice stem from preference for the ingroup, not hate for the outgroup

Psychologists Tony Greenwald of the University of Washington and Thomas Pettigrew of the University of California, Santa Cruz reviewed studies on discrimination from the last decade and found that prejudice is often rooted in a preference for similar people, rather than in an intent to cause harm to others. They assert that the majority of cases of discrimination in the United States don’t stem from hostile actions like homophobic speech or acts of violence spurred by racist feelings. Instead, unintentional discrimination through favoritism is often the culprit. “This is not to say that prejudice and hostility are not related to outgroup discrimination,” Pettigrew said. “But they are not as central to most discrimination as ingroup favoritism.” So when an employer is considering two candidates—think of one who grew up with a similar background, went to a similar school and is perhaps the same race, compared with another person who has had completely different life experiences—he’s more likely to hire the candidate with whom he identifies. The discrimination against the second candidate is not necessarily intentional or even conscious, it may be because he favors the candidate more like himself not because he dislikes candidate who isn’t like him.

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