October 12, 2010

Who Confronts Prejudice? The Role of Implicit Theories in the Motivation to Confront Prejudice

Aneeta Rattan and Carol S. Dweck

Despite the possible costs, confronting prejudice can have important benefits, ranging from the well-being of the target of prejudice to social change. What, then, motivates targets of prejudice to confront people who express explicit bias? In three studies, we tested the hypothesis that targets who hold an incremental theory of personality (i.e., the belief that people can change) are more likely to confront prejudice than targets who hold an entity theory of personality (i.e., the belief that people have fixed traits). In Study 1, targets’ beliefs about the malleability of personality predicted whether they spontaneously confronted an individual who expressed bias. In Study 2, targets who held more of an incremental theory reported that they would be more likely to confront prejudice and less likely to withdraw from future interactions with an individual who expressed prejudice. In Study 3, we manipulated implicit theories and replicated these findings. By highlighting the central role that implicit theories of personality play in targets’ motivation to confront prejudice, this research has important implications for intergroup relations and social change. Source

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