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Description: What might we do to reduce the level of racially based discrimination within a population? You have likely heard of some version of the Exposure hypothesis. It suggests that prejudice might be reduced through exposure to diverse individuals preferably in situations where they work together towards a common goal. Research involving relatively small numbers of individuals seems to support this hypothesis but the step from small, short-term studies to population level outcomes over time is a large one. Can you come up with a study design that might examine this hypothesis at a population level over a long stretch of time (e.g., hundreds of thousands of people over decades of time)? Oh, and relatively inexpensively (e.g., using existing datasets)? Once you have pondered this challenge for a few minutes have a read through the linked article to see what some American researchers came up with a a study design.

Source: Cross-ethnic exposure in childhood predicts behavior 70 years later, study finds, Mane Kara-Yakoubian.

Date: October 27, 2021

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

Article Link:

One of the largest challenges with using existing datasets to look at population level questions concerns the lack of control the researchers have over ow their variables are defined, or, more pointedly, how their concepts are operationalized. Given this, what are your thoughts about how this was accomplished by the researchers whose work was described in the linked article? The 7-decade time frame was impressive, however, does having voted Democrat work for you as an operationalization of less prejudiced beliefs? How about living next door to a racially distinct individual or family work for you as an operationalization of exposure to racial diverse people included in the exposure hypothesis? As well, this is a correlational study and as such there could be alternative explanations for the results obtained than the one provided by the study authors. Despite their claim that alternative explanations do not fit their data can you think of some alternative causal hypotheses? Despite these issues the study provides some intriguing data!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the exposure hypothesis as it relates to racial prejudice?
  2. How did the researchers whose study was described in the linked article operationalize exposure and racial prejudice?
  3. What sorts of things would you like to look at more closely within the research article that the linked article described and beyond in order to further investigate the claims made by the researchers?

References (Read Further):

Brown, J. R., Enos, R. D., Feigenbaum, J., & Mazumder, S. (2021). Childhood cross-ethnic exposure predicts political behavior seven decades later: Evidence from linked administrative data. Science Advances, 7(24), eabe8432. Link

Zebrowitz, L. A., White, B., & Wieneke, K. (2008). Mere exposure and racial prejudice: Exposure to other-race faces increases liking for strangers of that race. Social cognition, 26(3), 259-275. Link

Blanchard, F. A., Lilly, T., & Vaughn, L. A. (1991). Reducing the expression of racial prejudice. Psychological Science, 2(2), 101-105. Link

Columb, C., & Plant, E. A. (2011). Revisiting the Obama effect: Exposure to Obama reduces implicit prejudice. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(2), 499-501. Link

Sutton, M., Perry, B., & Parke, J. (2007). Getting the message across: using media to reduce racial prejudice and discrimination. Link

Mazumder, S. (2019). Black Lives Matter for Whites’ Racial Prejudice: Assessing the Role of Social Movements in Shaping Racial Attitudes in the United States. Link

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