Thanks for asking: Self-affirming questions reduce backlash when stigmatized targets confront prejudice

Jeff Stone, Jessica Whitehead, Toni Schmader, Elizabeth Focella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two experiments tested the prediction that stigmatized individuals can avoid backlash when they confront others about bias if they first ask questions designed to activate self-affirmation processes. Experiment 1 showed that compared to a no-strategy control condition, highly prejudiced perceivers tended to express less desire to meet an Arab-American when he asked them to take his perspective on prejudice, but they expressed more desire to meet him when he asked self-affirming questions prior to making the perspective-taking request. Experiment 2 replicated this effect with a different affirmation and revealed that asking self-affirming questions reduced perceptions that the target was being confrontational when asking others to take his perspective. Together, these studies show that stigmatized targets can effectively challenge prejudiced individuals to reduce their biases if they first use a subtle strategy that reduces defensiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-598
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2011

Keywords

  • Confrontation
  • Perspective taking
  • Prejudice reduction
  • Self-affirmation
  • Stereotyping
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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