Attitudes toward immigrants among the youth: Contact interventions to reduce prejudice in the school context
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Jones, S. & Rutland, A. (2018) Attitudes toward immigrants among the youth: Contact interventions to reduce prejudice in the school context. European Psychologist, 23 (1), pp. 83-92.
In recent years in our increasingly globalized world in many countries we have seen the rise of anti-immigrant feelings among the youth. This has resulted in both discrimination against immigrants and negative psychological outcomes which harm both the individual and hinder social integration within society. In this article, we highlight how psychological research can play an important role in informing the design and conduct of educational interventions based on intergroup contact theory that are aimed at reducing prejudice toward immigrants. We review recent research showing anti-immigrant attitudes among the youth across the globe, and how these attitudes are related to parental and peer relationships. Research indicates that a color-blind approach to prejudice reduction among youth is not helpful and, in contrast, it suggests a more effective approach could be a multicultural approach to diversity, which celebrates both group differences and similarities while promoting social integration through quality contact between different social groups. Recent psychological research shows that this contact can take many forms, ranging from direct contact (i.e., cross-ethnic friendships), to extended contact (i.e., reading a book in which someone from your group has a positive interaction with someone from another group) and even imagined contact (i.e., engaging in imagined play involving characters from different groups having positive relations). The findings of this research demonstrate that it is possible to challenge anti-immigrant attitudes when and where they develop in young people.