Reducing Prejudice Through Cultural Activities

Studies conducted by psychologists at Stanford University show that engaging in cultural activities can not only reduce implicit prejudice but also create lasting effects of this change. Prejudice and stereotyping are learned attributes which generally take root at younger ages.

It is a point to note, however, that these qualities are learned. Therefore, as we all experience, it is very possible that with proper action, prejudice and stereotyping can be unlearned. Luckily, this action may be something as simple as participating in some kind of cultural activity.

The average American is exposed to a massive and varying amount of diversity occurring in daily life and especially through the advent of advancing technologies and social networks. With the internet narrowing global boundaries and blurring the lines of inequality, we might expect a significantly higher tolerance for difference among race, culture, or creed. However, the online interactions that are increasingly prevalent in present and upcoming generations cannot suffice for genuine and real participation in a culturally diverse environment.

Stanford research shows that to personally engage in cultural events in the presence of people from that specific culture will produce the longer lasting, and perhaps permanent restraint from prejudice. Fortunately for us as members of the University community, there are a wide array of campus events available to students that provide the perfect opportunity to perhaps spark our curiosities while increasing our cultural competency.

Geography professor at the University, Vincent Joyce, said, “Most first-year psychology students know that one of the most important elements for friendship, acceptance and interpersonal relationships is proximity and by having a healthy mix of diversity here at Monmouth University, we can be assured that many lasting relationships will be formed in study groups, social clubs, and in the classroom.”

Joyce added, “Prejudice is the fear of the unknown and by having daily encounters with others of different hues, religions, and sexual orientations we all can knock down that wall of bias.”

Sophomore medical technology major Kerianne Fuoco agreed that, “The results of this research can be seen directly at Monmouth University, since there are numerous clubs that give students a chance to become immersed in new cultures. Becoming actively involved in these unique cultural experiences reduces prejudice and improves people’s perceptions of other cultures because it allows students to appreciate the differences and similarities between their own culture and the other cultures that are prevalent in the campus community.”

Furthermore, the initial prejudice that we practice is primarily a result of ignorance and whatever various preconceived notions we attain through our life experiences. To transgress those barriers of ignorance, students should take advantage of the events hosted at the University. Such events would include the upcoming Eid celebration hosted by the Muslim Student Association, signing up for Latin dance lessons, participating in the events associated with Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept.15 to Oct. 15, looking in to various study abroad programs, applying for the University’s spring break trip to Guatemala or attending the Annual International Festival.

PHOTO TAKEN from earthhabitat.wordpress.com