Combating Prejudice

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My favorite part of the 13th chapter was the last section. Here it is talk about two cases that show how prejudice can be combat. This cases are called the Robbers Cave Study and the Jigsaw Classrooms.


The Robbers Cave Study was conducted by Muzafer Sherif in 1954. Here 22, 11-year-old, boys were lead to believe they were attending a normal summer camp where three phases occur:

1) In-group formation
The boys were randomly divided into two groups, and assigned to two living areas. The two groups were isolated from each other, and none of the participants were aware of there being a second group.
 Each group spent a week doing sports and activities with members of their group.

2) Friction phase
The groups were then put into situations in which they were to compete against the other group for prizes, the goal being to create intergroup tension. This resulted in animosity between the groups, which included raids and fist-fighting.

3) Integration Phase
In a third phase of the study, the experimenters attempted to reduce the level of intergroup-conflict, by increasing the contact between the two groups. This was initially unsuccessful, but was more successful once superordinate goals were introduced to the groups. This reduced inter-group tension, and the individuals from each group became friendlier toward each other.

But contact by itself cannot heal the deep wounds of prejudice. Interventions are most likely to reduce prejudice only if they satisfy the following conditions:

  • The groups should cooperate toward shared goals

  • The contact between groups should be enjoyable

  • The groups should be of roughly equal status

  • Group members should disconfirm the other group's negative stereotypes

  • Group members should have the potential to become friends

Then, Elliot Aronson applied the lesson form the previous study into the Jigsaw Classrooms, and found a significant decrease in racial prejudice.

Do you have any prejudice that you have get in contact that you will like to share? Or do you have any situation where you had or could apply this technique?


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This is a classic study Roberto, that I often refer to in my social psychology class. Back in the 50s it was believed that prejudiced people simply lacked the understanding and contact necessary to foster good relations with other ethnic groups.

This was applied to school desegregation to very poor effect. Essentially parents and students both hated the idea and it made prejudice and discrimination even worse!

Sherif and Aronson showed us a better way by establishing superordinate goals, equal status and most importantly, it had to be clear that leaders and authority figures sanctioned this type of integration and working together.

I think schools have come a long way in making this a reality and the jigsaw classroom is now standard procedure. I also feel that sports teams have been doing the same thing for even longer. When baseball finally broke the color barrier by allowing Jackie Robinson to play in the major leagues in the 50s it showed an entire nation that a team could look beyond race to work together to accomplish its goals successfully.

Thanks for your comment and like your allusion to sport teams. It is a truly interesting the outcome from this studies. Actually, before reading this chapter and watching its corresponding lecture, I used to believe in the same thing, that as your comment said, used to be the norm in the 50s. This studies brought to me a better undertaking of how to bring solutions to prejudice.

In my high school, there used to be big prejudice between the three different education programs. There was the Honors program (mine), the bicultural program, and the bilingual program. Even though, the school put us together in some situation, you could see how the three different programs would be complexly separated. I believe that the school, needs to create groups with individuals of each of the programs and provide a goal, to reduce this prejudice and segregations.

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This page contains a single entry by Roberto Barrientos published on April 22, 2012 10:53 PM.

You RACIST! was the previous entry in this blog.

The Milgram Study is the next entry in this blog.

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