Evolutionary perspectives on intergroup prejudice: implications for promoting tolerance
Prejudice has been a topic of perennial interest in social psychology. Recent inquiries informed by evolutionary perspectives have advanced understanding of intergroup prejudice in important ways. As humans are a tribal species, an important insight is that humans may possess psychological mechanisms specialized for intergroup conflict, including tendencies to draw coalition-based ingroup–outgroup distinctions, to exalt the ingroup, and to hold particular kinds of biased intergroup attitudes and cognitions. Diverging from standard social psychological approaches, evolutionary perspectives have converged on the view that intergroup prejudice (i.e. prejudice rooted in coalitional psychology) differs in important ways from other kinds of prejudice (such as sexism and ageism)—in their causes and symptoms, and in the interventions that are likely to be effective. This chapter outlines key evolutionary principles as well as specific hypotheses deduced from those principles, and reviews research on the psychological processes underlying intergroup prejudice. Drawing on the research findings, possible strategies for reducing intergroup prejudice are discussed.
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