Understanding intent crucial to improving race relations

Understanding intent crucial to improving race relations
Credit: Bruce Emerling/Pixabay

Improving race relations starts with understanding whether people feel an incident of racial discrimination was intentional or not, says a new study by UTM management professor Sonia Kang. This applies in situations ranging from a workplace to an interaction between police and demonstrators.

Typically, two approaches are applied to improving race relations. A multicultural approach uses education to highlight and celebrate differences in a group, while a colourblind approach emphasizes commonalities that a group might share. "Both approaches can and will work—the difficulty is identifying which approach to use," Kang says. "We wanted to know if there were variables that would help predict when one of those two approaches would be better to use."

Kang found that it is important to determine how a target group feels about the issue at hand, specifically whether they feel is intentional or unintentional. "Does the incident stem from intentional and deliberate malice, or does it arise from unintentional or accidental ignorance?" Kang asks. "We found that perceptions of intentionality predicted the kinds of solutions people think will be effective."

"Intentionality is important in a legal context for punishments in criminal cases. Even small kids will think about intentionality—did someone push them on purpose, or was it an accident?" she says. "People prioritize ideas of intentionality when they're trying to decide how to make problems better, or recommend punishment or reparations."

"When people see discrimination as intentional, they prefer a colourblindness approach, which encourages looking beyond racial differences," Kang says. "When people see discrimination as unintentional, they prefer a multicultural approach, which encourages recognizing ."

The paper reports on eight studies which examined a number of different predictors and outcomes, including attitudes about the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.

The studies recorded how participants reacted to scenarios describing incidents of . In one example, participants were asked to award damages to an employee who had been wrongfully dismissed. Where the discrimination was perceived as intentional, study participants awarded an average of $100,000 more in damages than in scenarios where the discrimination was perceived as unintentional.

"There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach," Kang says. "But understanding whether think racism is intentional or not can inform which is the best approach to deal with the issue at hand. It's important to tailor your to what's going on in the individual community you're trying to target. If , for instance, you're an employer and want to solve problems in your workplace, you will need to do a careful assessment of where your employees think the problem originates."

Explore further

Repeated experiences of racism most damaging to mental health

More information: Evan P. Apfelbaum et al. From ignorance to intolerance: Perceived intentionality of racial discrimination shapes preferences for colorblindness versus multiculturalism, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2016.08.002
Citation: Understanding intent crucial to improving race relations (2016, September 16) retrieved 18 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-09-intent-crucial.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Sep 20, 2016
Quite understandable, since the entire Marxist indoctrination machine, from "education" from K to post grad in the propaganda mills we used to call "schools" and "universities", to the so-called "social justice" war-mongerers and racialist self-promoters, to the leftling entertainment, cultural and "news" media, has been working 24/7/365 for a century to blame everything evil on white, straight Republican Christian males, while keeping the minority communities chained to the Democrat plantation by telling them they can't act responsibly and take care of themselves and their families without government paternalism.

Ergo, every word uttered by white, straight Republican Christian males can now be ripped out of context to form "hate speech", "offensive speech", slurs, micro-freakin'-aggressions and more.

Sep 20, 2016
Ergo, every word uttered by white, straight Republican Christian males . . .

You left out "angry", "bitter", and "old" there, George.

Sep 20, 2016
People are intrinsically tribal. We have been selected for our ability to accept and emulate the tribal dynamic over the course of 1000s of gens. And so we are very sensitive to all behavioral clues related to internal altruism in conjunction with external animosity.

The artificial concept of the universal tribe is a very fragile. At the first indication that individuals are expressing tribal loyalties we will respond tribally.

Gangs are tribes. Police forces are tribes. Each are very sensitive to the actions of the other. A cop who sees young blacks congregating on a corner acting tribally will act tribally in response, and trouble will often be the result. And each group will defend the acts of the other irrationally because tribal morality dictates that crimes committed against members of other tribes are not crimes.

It is not hatred. It is not bigotry. It is a genetic predisposition that we domesticated animals have a very hard time ignoring.

Sep 20, 2016
"intentional and deliberate malice... unintentional or accidental ignorance?"

Malice toward outsiders is never accidental. Crimes committed against outsiders are encouraged and rewarded because they strengthen your tribe while weakening theirs.

The civil rights movement improved race relations because it strengthened the concept of the universal tribe. It was the combined effort of governments, the media, the schools and universities, and religious institutions.

But it is an entirely artificial concept and as such it is a lot easier to destroy than it is to create and maintain.

Combined efforts to weaken it in the US began with media coverage of the trayvon martin killing and similar such incidents. It was easy to get people to ignore the facts and jump to unwarranted conclusions.

So now virtually no minorities will vote conservative and instead are willing to elect a spastic liberal psychopath into office even though she is a proven criminal and compulsive liar.

Sep 20, 2016
People are intrinsically tribal.

The age old rationale to justify bigotry and hatred.

Sep 20, 2016
You should not ignore it, you should overcome it
And what makes you think Im a bigot? Just because I state the obvious?
The age old rationale to justify bigotry and hatred
In order to overcome it I think we need to understand it yes? Or else we can be taught to ignore it like bad little doggies who fear the newspaper on the nose.

This is a science site. Science tells us it is better to understand than to fear, correct?
So Hammurabi decided to create a codified set of laws to guard th epeace so that all could prosper and he could collect more taxes
Hammurabis laws were simply tribal law. He just wrote them down. And the hebrews copied them.

And as tribal law there was nothing universal about them. Read what joshua did to the canaanites with the ark of the covenant in tow.

Sep 20, 2016
In the end both tribes suffer including yours
This is certainly true today. It is the essence of the 'universal tribe' fallacy.

Why do you think I hate religion so much?

Sep 20, 2016
And what makes you think Im a bigot?

My comment was about the words you used, not about what I think you are. If you want to insert yourself into the narrative at that level though, that's your bone to chew, not mine.

Sep 21, 2016
Tektrix says
The age old rationale to justify bigotry and hatred
and then he says
If you want to insert yourself into the narrative at that level though, that's your bone to chew, not mine
-revealing that he prefers shaming as an effective behavior modifier over understanding and self-control.

There are a lot of perfectly normal things we animals tend to do that are completely unacceptable. Puppies will naturally want to relieve themselves on the carpet.

Can you reason with a puppy? Can you reason with a gang banger or a soccer thug? Can you reason with a boko haram butcher?

I can assume there are not many bangers or thugs or butchers, or for that matter puppies, reading these posts.

Sep 21, 2016
. . . revealing that he prefers shaming as an effective behavior modifier over understanding and self-control.

As a 60+ year old woman, I know all too well what shaming is and what I said in reply to you was nothing of the sort. But again, if you want to chew that bone, it's all yours.

Sep 21, 2016
. . . revealing that he prefers shaming as an effective behavior modifier over understanding and self-control.

As a 60+ year old woman, I know all too well what shaming is and what I said in reply to you was nothing of the sort. But again, if you want to chew that bone, it's all yours.
So what does being a woman have to do with objectivity?

Tribalism is real. Evolutionary psychology is the truth whereas tabula rasa was all bullshit.

If prejudice is biological then acknowledging the fact does not make one a bigot.And neither is it encouraging bigotry or saying it is a good thing or implying that there is nothing we can do about it.

Do you understand this, or are you too caught up in gender issues maybe?

Do I need to inform you of some of my own minority affiliations as if they had something to do with my ability to be objective?

Sep 21, 2016
What is tribal about them? Where doe sit say that it only applies to one tribe and not to people not belonging to this tribe?
This guy says it pretty well.

"These laws are not a guide for ethical conduct. They are not based on universal values of right and wrong, because they were never intended to apply to all people. They were designed to protect the stability and interests of one Bronze Age tribe"

-These are not my ideas you understand.
Note that a city state like Babylon there were many clans.
This law was imposed on all clans equally to end feuds
Correct. Intratribal amity in conjunction with extratribal emnity. Religion was a way of extending tribal law over ever larger groups of people. Christianity was configured in such a way that it was able to unite the warring germanic tribes of europe.

Sep 21, 2016
Convince me that these are tribal
First off, how do you react when people give you orders? Second, what makes you think that hammurabi would want to write laws for people outside his own kingdom?

You don't know what tribalism is. Tribalism is group identity. It can be as small as an extended family or as large as a nationalist identity can extend. Religions are tribalism. Sports teams are tribal. Street gangs are tribal. Cliques are tribal. Social classes are tribal.

Tribal behavior is characterized, like I said, by internal altruism with external animosity.

Internal altruism depends on trust. Tribal law is simple; no killing, no stealing, no lying, no infidelity, etc. If you had looked up hammurabis code you would have seen that it pertained to civil and criminal law.

Hammurabi was unique in that he wrote these laws down.

Sep 21, 2016
"Let it be borne in mind how all- important in the never-ceasing wars of savages, fidelity and courage must be. The advantage which disciplined soldiers have over undisciplined hordes follows chiefly from the confidence which each man feels in his comrades."

"When two tribes of primeval man, living in the same country, came into competition, if (other circumstances being equal) the one tribe included a great number of courageous, sympathetic and faithful members, who were always ready to warn each other of danger, to aid and defend each other, this tribe would succeed better and conquer the other." -Darwin

Hammurabi codified tribal law for the purpose of promoting harmony amongst his people. Why do you think he would be willing to share this philosophy with his enemies?

Universal morality is a very recent concept. The magna carta only granted equality to a very small portion of the people. Blacks and women were only allowed to vote in the 20th century I believe.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more