Discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, age, economic status and sexual orientation is growing increasingly, and it’s time to make it stop. Scientists have discovered that a key component of stopping discrimination is being able to identify when it takes place, however subtly.
In order to do so, one needs to have high self-esteem, according to a study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Focusing on Asian-Americans as targets of racial prejudice and discrimination, it observed that since perpetrators are very unlikely to admit to discriminating against someone, the targets must call attention to discrimination.
Study author Wendy Quinton from the University at Buffalo, said that the difficulty of coming forward is compounded by previous research findings showing how people who identify themselves as victims of discrimination can be viewed negatively by others, who often see targets as complainers, even when there is clear and indisputable evidence of unfair treatment.
And though this type of overt racism is still present in society, a more subtle discrimination exists as well, which is ambiguous, according to study co-author Mark Seery. He explains, “The responsibility of attribution is on the target. And that’s when self-esteem really matters. We found that self-esteem is a personal resource for recognizing this kind of ambiguous prejudice. When prejudice is obvious, people are likely to make an attribution, regardless of their level of self-esteem; but when it’s less clear, those with higher self-esteem are more likely to make an attribution than those with lower self-esteem.”
The basic idea of the study is that if you don’t call attention to discrimination, it is never going to be addressed.
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