Salient intergroup ideology and intergroup interaction

Psychol Sci. 2009 Jul;20(7):838-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02369.x. Epub 2009 May 21.


Two experiments examined how rendering different intergroup ideologies salient affects dominant- and minority-group members' behavior during, and experience of, intergroup interactions. We hypothesized that ideologies that encourage an outward focus on appreciating out-group members' distinctive qualities (multiculturalism) would have more positive implications than ideologies that encourage a self-control focus on ignoring social categories and avoiding inappropriate behavior (color blindness and antiracism). As predicted, in both ostensible (Study 1) and actual face-to-face (Study 2) intergroup interactions, the multicultural ideological prompt led dominant- and minority-group members to adopt a more outward focus and hence to direct more positive other-directed comments to an interaction partner who was a member of an out-group. In contrast, the color-blind prompt fostered a prevention orientation in dominant-group members that led them to express negative affect toward their out-group interaction partner. The antiracist prompt had no consistent effects. Implications for efforts to improve intergroup relations are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada / ethnology
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Cultural Diversity
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Prejudice
  • Social Behavior
  • Students / psychology