Perspective taking and prejudice reduction: The mediational role of empathy arousal and situational attributions

Theresa K. Vescio, Gretchen B. Sechrist, Matthew P. Paolucci

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Abstract

This research was designed to examine whether perspective taking promotes improved intergroup attitudes regardless of the extent that Stereotypic perceptions of outgroups are endorsed, as well as examining the mechanisms (attributional or empathy related) by which perspective taking motivates improved intergroup attitudes. Participants were presented with an interview segment where an African American interviewee discussed the difficulties experienced as a result of his membership in a negatively stereotyped group. Materials were presented in a 2 (perspective taking: other focused or objective focused) × 2 (target stereotypicality: confirming or disconfirming) between participants design. Findings revealed that the manipulation of target stereotypicality influenced subsequent stereotype endorsement; those exposed to a stereotype confirming target later endorsed more Stereotypic perceptions of African Americans than did those exposed to a stereotype disconfirming target. However, perspective taking promoted improved intergroup attitudes irrespective of stereotypicality; those encouraged to adopt the perspective of the target later reported more favourable intergroup attitudes than did those who remained detached and objective listeners. Whereas empathy partially mediated the relation between perspective taking and intergroup attitudes, situational attributions were a stronger and more reliable mediator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-472
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

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