Proximity Leads to Understanding
Weekly Column By Sharon Salzberg for On Being
Published July 13th, 2015
It turns out that proximity leads to understanding.
According to a recent study, longer-term interpersonal contact between hostile groups counteracts biases by letting people get to know one another as individuals, rather than as parts of a group. Thomas F. Pettigrew, a research professor of social psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, analyzed more than 500 studies on intergroup contact. In this research, he found that even in areas where ethnic groups were in conflict and viewed one another through lenses of negative stereotypes, individuals who had close friends within the other group exhibited little or no such prejudice. They seemed to realize the many ways those formerly demonized “others” were “just like me.”
And we can simulate that proximity internally by truly considering another person.
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On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast, a Webby Award-winning website and online exploration, a publisher and public event convener. On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?
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