Cultivating Positive Feelings and Attitudes: A Path to Prejudice Reduction and Ally Behavior

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Abstract

Intergroup prejudice negatively affects all individuals in a society. Past research has primarily focused on how to reduce intergroup prejudice, especially prejudice held by members of privileged groups against members of stigmatized groups. In this article, we briefly summarize the literature on several effective prejudice reduction techniques. We then present an argument for expanding current research by complementing reduction of negative feelings and attitudes with cultivating positive feelings and attitudes toward stigmatized outgroups. Functional distinctions between positive and negative feelings and attitudes point to the ally development literature as a source of inspiration for creating new interventions. We give examples of practical interventions suggested by this expanded conceptual framework, including increasing knowledge and understanding of stigmatized groups, focusing on values, increasing understanding of privilege and its role in oppression, and cultivating empathy. These interventions focus on cultivating positive views of stigmatized outgroups as a basis for prejudice reduction as well as behavioral support. Directions for future research are suggested to test these positive ally-based strategies for ending stigma and promoting positive intergroup relations and well-being in communities.

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