SFU Canada Research Chairs Seminar Series: "The Psychology of Improving Relations between Groups: Friendship, Prejudice Reduction, and Social Change"

Thursday, November 24, 2011
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Stephen Wright
Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology, Department of Psychology


Abstract: Negative attitudes and unequal treatment across social groups remains a compelling human problem, and understanding the nature, the causes and the reduction of prejudice has been a major theme in social psychology. One thing that seems fairly clear is that friendly contact between members of different groups can lead to reductions in prejudice. However, what is less clear is why. Contemporary research and theorizing has focused on three distinct but related issues surrounding cross-group contact. First, what are the psychological processes that underlie attitude change during friendly cross-group contact? Second, what are the barriers to meaningful friendly contact? Third, while it is certainly true that those who are the targets of the most virulent kinds of prejudice will benefit from its reduction, cross-group contact may not be a panacea if the ultimate goal is create great equality between groups.

About the Speaker

Steve is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology at Simon Fraser University. He received his PhD from McGill and was a faculty member at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1991 to 2003, when he moved to SFU. He is a fellow of the Association of Psychological Sciences, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. He has served as associate editor of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and the British Journal of Social Psychology. His research focuses on intergroup relations, with specific interests in: the consequences of membership in stigmatized groups, collective action participation, prejudice and its reduction, and issues of minority languages and cultures.