TARGET EMPOWERMENT: DOES PERSPECTIVE TAKING REDUCE BIAS WHEN EMPLOYED BY A STIGMATIZED TARGET?
Committee ChairStone, Jeff
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractOver 50 years of research on prejudice has identified dozens of strategies that effectively reduce stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination. However, very few studies have examined if any of these strategies reduce bias when used directly by a stigmatized target. A few studies show that when stigmatized targets attempt to reduce bias by blatantly confronting people, or by presenting counter-stereotypic attributes, outgroup perceivers are threatened and motivated to retaliate against the target (Czopp & Montieth, 2003; Rudman & Glick, 2001). The Target Empowerment Model (or TEM) provides a framework for addressing these problems. The TEM proposes that targets can blatantly challenge bias in others if they first use strategies that diffuse perceptions of threat, like asking self-affirming questions (Stone et al., 2010). Using a social networking paradigm, three experiments tested the effects of asking self-affirming questions, confronting through perspective taking, and the combination of these strategies, on the biases expressed toward an Arab American target individual. Experiment 1 showed that when an Arab American target challenged perceivers by asking them to take their perspective, highly prejudiced participants showed increased dislike and distancing relative to a neutral question control condition. Experiment 2 showed that as predicted by the TEM, distancing in high prejudiced individuals was significantly reduced if the target first asked questions designed to affirm the perceiver's sense of fairness prior to insisting on perspective taking. Experiment 3 demonstrated that when the target affirmed prejudiced perceivers on values related to creativity prior to implementing a perspective taking strategy, perceivers showed less dislike and distancing compared to using either affirmation or perspective-taking strategies alone. In addition, reductions in the negative emotions directed at the target partially mediated the relationship between the use of different TEM strategies and distancing from the target. Taken together, these studies support the TEM predictions that stigmatized targets can effectively challenge prejudiced perceivers to reduce their biases if they first use a subtle bias reduction strategy that reduces perceptions of threat.