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Discrimination can occur without Hostility or Intent PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brain22   
Thursday, 22 May 2014
Article Index
Discrimination can occur without Hostility or Intent
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Most discrimination in the U.S. is not caused by intention to harm people different from us, but by ordinary favoritism directed at helping people similar to us, according to a theoretical review published online in American Psychologist.

"We can produce discrimination without having any intent to discriminate or any dislike for those who end up being disadvantaged by our behavior," said University of Washington psychologist Tony Greenwald, who co-authored the review with Thomas Pettigrew of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Greenwald and Pettigrew reviewed experiments and survey methods from published scientific research on discrimination from the last five decades. They were surprised to find that the discrimination observed in those studies occurred much more often as helping rather than harming someone. But they also found that most researchers defined discrimination as based on negative attitudes and hostility, only rarely treating favoritism as a component of discrimination.

That makes sense, Greenwald said, because most people think of discrimination as the result of hostility: a white person spouting anti-black rhetoric, or a homophobe yelling slurs at a gay couple. But, he argues, it's more subtle acts, ones people don't even recognize as causing disadvantage to anyone, that are likely to be much more significant.

Take this hypothetical scenario: When conducting reviews of two employees, a manager finds they both fall between two performance categories. The manager gives a higher category to the employee whose child is friends with the manager's child, leading to a promotion and salary raise, while the other employee receives a smaller raise and no promotion.



 
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