Rutgers University

Press Releases

Speaking Up Against Bigotry Can Reduce Bad Behavior

8ac8e7c5a395da886fa4_Sanchez387_0.jpg
Diana Sanchez, associate professor of psychology, who ran the study. Credits: Courtesy of Rutgers Today
8ac8e7c5a395da886fa4_Sanchez387_0.jpg

If you’re sitting around the holiday table and one of your curmudgeonly uncles says something unintentionally bigoted, your inclination may be to ask for more mashed potatoes and get on with the feast. But Rutgers University-New Brunswick researchers say that might be a mistake.

Social psychologists Diana Sanchez and Kimberly Chaney have studied the way people react to being confronted about making bigoted statements and discovered that people who are confronted feel bad and consciously try to avoid repeating such statements. Their new research is published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

“We found that participants who were confronted felt bad about their behavior, ruminated more, showed an enduring prejudice reduction,” said Sanchez, an associate professor of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences. “And we didn’t just look at their immediate response, but looked at them a week later.”

Sign Up for E-News

The researchers recruited two groups of university students, each numbering about 100. All the students self-identified as white. The researchers showed them a series of images, each paired with a sentence. The participants were asked to draw an inference from the picture and sentence.

For instance, they might be shown a photo of an African-American man, paired with the sentence: “This man spends a lot of time behind bars.” The researchers were hoping to draw a bigoted, or stereotypical response: This man is a criminal. Randomly, the researchers either let the responses go unremarked upon or said, “Gee, that’s kind of stereotypical, don’t you think? I mean, this guy might be a bartender.”

A week after the initial test, the same people were called back and showed a different set of faces and sentences. Those who had been confronted earlier were asked if they had thought about their previous responses and stereotyping. They had. Most of those people were markedly less stereotypical the second time around, the researchers found.

A second group of students went through the same process, and then underwent follow-up examinations online, with researchers adding (or not) words designed to elicit a stereotypical response. The second group also filled out an online questionnaire probing how much they had thought about their initial experience and how it made them feel. Again, Chaney and Sanchez found the second group much less likely to stereotype than they had been originally.

Chaney, a graduate student in the School of Graduate Studies, and Sanchez write that this research shows for the first time that “the effects of intrapersonal confrontation endure.”

“I think this is important because we need to understand what reduces prejudice,” Sanchez said. “Confronting people is hard, and unless people know it will be effective, they won’t do it.” 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - April 26, 2019

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

MENDHAM - How long are New Jersey taxpayers going to pay for Chris Christie?  WNYC reports there is a $250,000 line item in the state budget for "gubunatorial transition." Christie still has expenses: the staffer to help him with his waning responsibilities, rented office space near his home and that darn $85,000 portrait, the highest ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 25, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - New Jersey now has the most sweeping equal pay legislation in the nation, a terrific headline, following the governor's bill signing yesterday. The question is enforcement. Women and minorities need to know it is illegal for employers to offer them less pay and benefits than others, and that they have the full backing of the state.

The Jaffe Briefing - April 24, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

STATEWIDE - Yeah, yeah, New Jersey has really high taxes. And, yeah, it is super expensive to live here. So, yet another study is out, with the American Legislative Exchange Council ranking New Jersey second-to-last among states in economic performance and 46th in economic outlook, ROI-NJ reports. The study, called "Rich States, Poor ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 23, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

STATEWIDE - First, there was a turkey in every pot. Then there was the "Square Deal," the "New Deal" and now Sen. Cory Booker says it is time for government to offer a, uh, great deal: A job to anyone who wants one. He is proposing federal grants that would select 15 "local areas" in which adults could get a job at $15 an ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 20, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

ON THE ROAD - It looks like a State Police trooper is going to have to head to the bars to pick up chicks, indicted yesterday for intentionally pulling over women in a desperate attempt to land dates. Internal affairs learned the Trooper was pulling over two lovely ladies at the end of 2016, threatening to arrest them if they didn't hand over their ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 19, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

PLAINFIELD - Those who dabble in Union County politics are learning this morning that the former Democratic chairman, Jerry Green, has died at age 79 after a long illness. Green, a longtime assemblyman from Plainfield, rose through the ranks from serving on the freeholder board in the late 1980s.  He will be remembered as a Roselle native, a ...

Rutgers professor named Pulitzer Prize finalist

April 19, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - For Evie Shockley, poetry – and her professorship at Rutgers University–New Brunswick – are central to her engagement with a world that needs change and central to the ways she prepares students to do their own engagement.

This week, Shockley was selected as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in the poetry category. The Pulitzer ...

Rutgers Professor Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

NEW BRUNSWICK - Helen M. Berman, Board of Governors distinguished professor emerita of chemistry and chemical Biology at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Berman is among 213 people elected to the academy this year, including author Ta-Nehisi Coates, actor Tom Hanks, President Barack Obama, Supreme ...

Questions now swirl around reported Rutgers theft

NEW BRUNSWICK - A crime alert issued by Rutgers police about an armed robbery on Tuesday April 10 has turned out to be false. 

Upon further investigation, police said the alleged incident in front of the Campbell Hall dorm on George Street did not happen as was initially reported. Police had said initially that the suspect showed a handgun, ordered the ...

NB Public Schools task force takes on chronic absenteeism

April 19, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – Being absent for just two days each month means a student will miss 10 percent of the entire school year – enough to negatively impact that student’s academic performance.

It’s sobering information, and a clear demonstration that chronically absent students are at a tremendous educational disadvantage, one from which many of them will never recover.

OPINION

Safe Sleep for Babies Requires Effort from All

April 10, 2018

For more than a decade, my organization, Keeping Babies Safe (KBS), has sounded the steady drumbeat of safe sleep awareness, which in turn has created bans on dangerous products and has helped enact laws that work to ensure babies are sleeping safely.

In 2018, KBS kicked off its latest awareness campaign designed to promote safe sleep practices and products ...

'Elementary, My Dear Watson!' Solving Mysteries with Genetic Geneaology

April 20, 2018

The next meeting of the New Brunswick Historical Society will be on Thursday, April 26 at 7:00 p.m. Andrew May will speak about Genetic Genealogy. Humans are 99.9% identical in their genetic makeup, yet, differences in 0.1% of our DNA has helped us answer questions about our recent and deep ancestral origins. Direct-to-consumer DNA testing provides the toolbox for solving difficult ...

Why People Should Visit Black Churches and Black People Should Welcome Them

March 29, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,

In New Jersey, segregation is a cultural issue that demands the immediate attention of Christians. Nearly 87 percent of Christian churches in the U.S. are either made up of only white, or only African-American parishioners. When we worship in the comfortable bubble of segregation, we miss the opportunity for racial reconciliation, as mandated by Jesus:

"A ...