Touting the benefits of tolerance, as opposed to trying to shame people for their prejudices, can be more effective in reducing racism, suggests a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto.
Aggressive anti-racism campaigns might actually increase bias toward other groups, while messages emphasizing the personal stake one has in a more open-minded society can be most effective, says the paper, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science.
In one experiment, non-black subjects were divided into three groups. Two of the groups read brochures designed to prevent prejudice.
The first brochure was forthright in telling readers not to be prejudiced, urging readers to conform to social norms and legal obligations. It said things such as “being Canadian means having an anti-prejudiced attitude,” and that laws and policies in schools and workplaces can result in serious consequences for those who are seen as racist.