The One Thing That Actually Reduces Bigotry

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Never know what to say when you hear an offensive remark? New research published in the journal Personality and Psychology Bulletin offers promising insight into the idea that we should speak out against hate: Apparently, doing so actually works.

For the study, researchers asked 100 students at Rutgers University to describe a photo of a person paired with a sentence, such as "This person spends a lot of time behind bars." When the students used bigoted, stereotypical language like "This man is a criminal" to describe the person, the researchers would fire back with statements like "Wow, that's a little stereotypical, don't you think?"

A week after the test, the same people were called back and went through a similar process. The participants who had been reprimanded for their stereotypical language were a lot less likely to use the same language the second time around. "I think this is important because we need to understand what reduces prejudice," said lead researcher Diana Sanchez. "Confronting people is hard, and unless people know it will be effective, they won't do it."

In other words, the next time you hear someone say something you perceive as bigoted, say something. It may reduce the chances of them doing it again—ever.

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