Intergroup contact and pluralistic ignorance
Intergroup contact largely borrows from theories in social research. Most of the studies conducted are about dominant groups and minority groups and the beliefs that exist. They have also focused on factors that can foster smooth interactions between groups. The research also focused on the interaction between the members of a group with those in other groups. A good example of such groups is the white Americans and the African Americans.
With globalization and more migration of people form their home countries to other destinations, intergroup contact is almost inevitable. When individuals meet people from a different group, they have the choice of either achieving intergroup contact or not.
According research most white Americans are concerned about interacting with others out of their group since they think they are perceived by out of group members as being closed minded, prejudiced and selfish. Research has shown that this perception of how they will be treated by members of another group greatly influences their social judgment during inter group contact.
On the other hand black American are concerned that they will be treated negatively based on racial stereotypes. This greatly affects their decisions and behavior during inter group interactions. In a sense, most black Americans who believe that out group members are prejudiced and are likely to treat them badly normally have very few white friends if any. This research was conducted among college students and it reflects the behavior of everyday people placed in the same scenarios.
Both groups given in this case study, thus the white and black Americans harbor fears of the potential negative reaction they will get form the other group if they attempt to initiate inter group contact. For example, a white man is sitting in a very crowded restaurant with an unoccupied seat next to him. A black American walks in and is looking for an empty seat. The white man will be hesitant to invite the black American to occupy the empty seat. The thought process in this scenario involves the white man thinking ‘what if I invite him and face rejection?’ the reaction would be the same if it is the black man who is sitting next o an empty seat and a white man walks in.
What is of interest here is the fact the decision not to get involved in the inter group contact is the fact that individuals do not consider their own behavioral options but those of their potential interaction partners as well. Before making any intergroup contact each party will consider the non verbal reactions of the other person to determine what their own will be.
Pluralistic ignorance was used by researchers to explain why people will portray in public that they have subscribed to certain societal norms in public when in actual sense in private, they do not. Individuals in public will take certain action in the belief that every other person beliefs and expects then to do so when in actual sense it is not so.
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Journal of psychology