Does Diversity Undermine Community Trust?

The Huffington Post:

One of the most conspicuous failures of the 113th Congress has been the Republican House’s refusal to even discuss long-overdue immigration reform, despite the Senate’s painstaking work in crafting a comprehensive bill. The Republican leadership knows that its hopelessly divided lawmakers will never come close to agreement on this contentious issue.

It is a difficult issue to be sure. Our culture and our economy are based on immigration and diversity, yet newcomers have always been threatening for some. Indeed, underlying all the complex legal and economic issues are some fundamental psychological questions: Will these people who don’t look and talk like me — will they hurt me in some way? Can I trust them to share my streets and shops and schools and workplaces?

Putnam calls this “turtling.” The idea is well known and controversial in both academic and public policy arenas. But none of these theories, Putnam’s included, has been systematically tested or proven. So psychological scientist Katharina Schmid of the University of Oxford, UK, decided to puts these different theories to the test. She and her colleagues wanted to see not only if neighborhood diversity affects the level of trust in the community, but also how. Specifically, they wanted to see if simple everyday contact — being at the same social gathering, or exchanging a few polite words at the newsstand — might play a previously unrecognized role in enhancing trust.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology. Follow Wray on Twitter @wrayherbert.

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