Mar 04, 2014 05:33 AM EST
People Living in Ethnically Diverse Areas Are Less Racist and More Tolerant Toward Minorities, Study
White people, who live in ethnically diverse neighborhoods, are more likely to be less racist and more tolerant toward minorities than their peers from other areas, according to a University of Oxford study. The researchers found that levels of racial prejudice among white people fell significantly when they lived in ethnically mixed communities, even when they were not in direct touch with the minorities.
The finding is based on seven studies conducted in England, Europe, the United States and South Africa between 2002 and 2011.
Researchers observed that tolerance levels in highly prejudiced people went down drastically in people directly communicating with the ethnic minorities. They also found a hike in the tolerance levels of in people living in the communities but not directly communicating with the ethnic groups.
The researchers propose that simply watching white people positively communicate with ethnic minorities could lessen racial discrimination. Hewstone said that the effect of 'passive tolerance' on people's prejudice is equivalent to passive smoking, where second-hand smoke can increase the risk of lung cancer in a person, even if he/she doesn't smoke.
"Simply living in a neighborhood where other people are mixing with minorities is enough to reduce racial prejudice," Professor Miles Hewstone, director of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Intergroup Conflict, said in a press release.
Hewstone said that governments could create 'harmonious neighborhoods' involving different ethnic groups as the positive contact between them could lead to more tolerant societies around the world.
"If two white people with identical views went to live in different postcodes for a year, the person in the neighborhood with more mixing between ethnic groups would likely leave more tolerant,' Hewstone the report's senior author said. "We would see this effect even if they never personally spoke to people from other ethnicities."
The finding is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.
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