Can You Use Persuasion or Social Influence to Change Prejudice or Stereotyping?
Prejudice and stereotyping are chronic negative social and psychological phenomena that require many attempts to tackle. While it can be a challenge to find a solution to these problems, persuasion and social influence categories and principles like the foot-in-the-door and door-in-the-face techniques, cognitive dissonance, persuasive message and source cue may hint several effective approaches to reduce and eliminate prejudice and stereotyping.
To begin with, supposing the person who is very concerned about prejudice and stereotype is a teacher in charge of a high school class composing of not only white American students but also some blacks and students from other racial backgrounds. If the majority is white students, other students may find themselves isolated when the white prefer to get along with each other and most of common decisions are based on the benefits of white ones. However, the teacher would like to encourage the positive behavior of regular cooperation among students. He can rely on a combination of foot-in-the-door and door-in-the-face techniques. In terms of the foot-in-the-door approach, the teacher is supposed to make at first a small request to stimulate the target behavior, for example, asking white students to do small group works with the others.
The “white” part of the class in reaction to this request is likely to go to two extremes: some may consider the request not a bad idea and agree immediately to collaborate while others are reluctant to accept it as for them this sounds ridiculous. In case of instant agreement, the concept of foot-in-the-door proves to be effective as after the fulfillment of this small request students may find common language and the teacher is now able to make bigger requests. Otherwise, the door-in-the-face technique can be used a good measurement when the teacher can take advantage of such an argument as “If this does not sound fine to you, would you just please help explain him/her the requirement of this task?” Robert B. Cialdini and Noah J. Goldstein (2004) have shown that meta-analyses in case studies claim the effectiveness of the foot-in-the-door strategy in forming long-term compliance even in case the attempts to fulfill the request fail, while the success level of reciprocal concession after an application of the door-in-the-face may decrease if the smaller requests are made too late.Another prejudice is that toward the disabled.
Assuming that the same teacher also has to deal with the stereotyping attitude of ordinary students to their disabled peers, we can recommend him to use cognitive dissonance to measure the prejudice. Actually, prejudice is merely another form of misunderstanding. The stigmatized group of disabled people is usually misunderstood to be helpless but truth is they are brilliant in another way. The teacher should study what his disabled students are excellent at, encourage them to perform their talents in front of the class and then ask the others to cooperate with the disabled in different activities.
The ordinary ones are bound to have now a strong …