We all have prejudices. Prejudices are attitudes, positive or negative, to groups or group members. They serve us to value and label people we do not know. For example, if we know a gypsy and think that gypsies play the guitar well, the interaction with him will be determined by this previous belief that presupposes that he is a good musician. Prejudices serve to maintain hierarchies among groups, but fortunately there are different ways to mitigate them.
Prejudice is considered to have three components. One of them is the cognitive component. Stereotypes, which represent the mental images we have of members of a group. Another component is the emotional, emotions and feelings that are aroused. The last component is the behavioral one; he is represented by discrimination, by negative conduct towards the collective on which prejudices apply.
Since prejudices are attitudes towards groups or members of groups, social psychology has developed different waysbased on theories of categorization and social identity to reduce them.
Reduction of prejudices by recategorization
People tend to categorize, categorize individuals. This categorization makes us favor more the category to which we belong, giving rise to prejudices towards the members of the other categories. Therefore, increasing the flexibility of the boundaries between categories will reduce bias. To do this, there are at least three possibilities:
- Decategorization it consists of seeing members of other categories as individuals. In this way, prejudices are minimized. If instead of seeing someone as a member of a country that we consider an independent person, attitudes will be more positive.
- Cross categorization: it consists in highlighting the common categories of belonging to which the members of two groups can be considered. By raising awareness of the categories they share, attitudes towards these people should be more favorable. We can have different religions but still share gender and nationality.
- Recategorization: it's trying to create a new categorization that encompasses the
- members of different categories. For example, we are neither Spanish nor French, we are European.
"I am what I am and you are what you are, build a world where I can be without ceasing to be me, where you can be without ceasing to be you, and where neither me nor you will oblige other to be like me or like you. "
Reduce prejudices by identifying with a common group
This last strategy, the recategorization, is the one that has been studied the most. Since the categorization leads to the formation of identities If I categorize myself as a woman, I will form the identity of a woman. Thus, to promote recategorization, it would be necessary to create new, more inclusive identities. Identities that encompass my identity and that of others.
For example, if my identity is a woman and yours is a man, I will tend to favor my group more, women, and I will be prejudiced against the members of your group of men. But if, on the other hand, we both identify as feminists, I will favor men and women.
Having a common identity increases the behavior of help and cooperation. As a result, the more people who integrate identity, the more the group benefits. Similarly, returning to the previous example, the initial identities would not be lost. We would always be women and feminists or men and feminists. In this way, we would have a double identity and although there is another group with another identity, it would be at the same time a member of ours. The problem is that social identities are not activated at the same time, only the most important of the moment is activated.
Reduce prejudices through contact
The contact hypothesis is closely related to categorization strategies in the reduction of prejudices. According to this theory, it would be possible to reduce stigma when there is increased contact between members of various social groups or when it is known that members of the same group have established close relationships with members of other groups.
However, the contact hypothesis seems to succeed only when there are specific conditions that promote contact between members of different social groups. These conditions are four in number:
- Social and institutional support is needed to promote contact.
- The contact must be prolonged. It must be long enough for relationships between group members to be meaningful.
- Participants, people in contact, must have a similar status. Groups must have the same status.
- The groups involved must have common goals, so that their common interests generate cooperative relationships.
In total, there are many ways to reduce stigma. It seems that the creation of a "human" category from which a human identity emerges is ideal. This would be the ideal way to reduce prejudices.
However, the difficulty of ensuring that people consistently define themselves as human beings as the most important identity complicates the viability of this hypothesis. Maybe a common enemy, from another planet, would help us to identify ourselves as human or earthly by putting an end to prejudices. This is possible, but unlikely.