The problem of pride and prejudice, how big is it, let’s talk about it.

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With 2021 behind us, the Scanlon Foundation of Australia, as part of research led by Monash University, has released its annual report Social Cohesion Mapping Report.

This year, in response to the question “How big is the problem of racism in Australia?” he found that 60% of Australians think it is “very important” or “somewhat important”.

This is a “significant aspect” that “appears to challenge the positive indication of the national mood”, the report said.

He explained:

“In 2020, the proportion indicating that it was a ‘very big problem’ or a ‘fairly big problem’ was stable: 39% in July and 40% in November. In 2021, however, it was significantly higher at 60%. A 20 percentage point increase in response to a general question of this nature is almost unprecedented.

The timing of the “substantial” shift in bias is “difficult to explain… [as it was] recorded in July 2021, but not in previous surveys in 2020 when the discussion of racism was at least as prominent, brought to attention by a number of events, including the Black Lives Matter protests, which were at their peak in May-June 2020”.

He says the distinction between Australians born overseas and those born in Australia did not provide a clear answer.

We found that of the thousands of studies aimed at reducing bias, only 69 “interventions” have been tested in real settings.

“While a higher proportion of foreign-born people see racism as a big problem, including 69% of respondents born in an Asian country, 57% of Australian-born people agree, an increase of 20 percentage points since November 2020.”

Moreover, it is not surprising that Australians of non-English speaking origins reported the highest level of discrimination.

In November, The Guardian reported on a new incident of racism involving African-born customers being racially profiled at a chain of suburban convenience stores.

Biases are a pervasive and important problem

To solve this problem, it’s important to start by understanding what really works to reduce bias in the real world. A significant amount of anti-bias research is conducted in contexts that are unlike the everyday contexts where bias can occur. Instead, they are tested in controlled environments.

Only a small subset of research involves field experiments and trials conducted in the real world, and therefore can identify what works in real settings.

Together with my co-authors Professor Rebecca Wickes of Monash and Dr Nicholas Faulkner of BehaviourWorks/Monash, I reviewed the available evidence of bias reduction interventions that have been tested in field experiments in our article recently published. Our meta-analysis of over 24,000 participants is published in the British Journal of Social Psychology.

We found that of the thousands of studies aimed at reducing bias, only 69 ‘interventions’ have been tested in real settings and used experiments, or ‘randomized controlled trials’, which give us the best indication of what actually works.

The most effective interventions

Our review indicated where there is the most evidence on effective bias reduction interventions for certain cohorts using certain approaches.

The approach most commonly tested in the real world is based on ‘contact theory’ – this is an intervention to reduce bias by creating opportunities to be in contact with someone different group.

This includes all forms of contact, such as direct or face-to-face contact, extended contact through movies or books, and virtual contact through channels other than face-to-face contact, such as instant messaging .

The second most common approach is what we call “awareness”. These are interventions where the bias reduction mechanism is to improve someone’s understanding of what bias is, the errors of stereotypical opinions, and the negative consequences.

Much of what we found using these two approaches involved primary and secondary school students.

What our review did not find is perhaps equally interesting: there was little evidence of interventions tested with adults in general community settings.

Given how little information we learn about how to reduce bias in adults, it is perhaps not at all surprising that there are ongoing reports of bias and discrimination.

It is also important that we found that discussion was almost universally absent regarding the scalability of interventions, or the ability of programs and interventions to increase their reach and impact.

For interventions to have lasting impact in the real world, scientific research on implementation indicates that it is not enough to consider effectiveness; it is also necessary to consider scalability.

We believe that to really have an impact on prejudice in the real world, more effort needs to be put into researching what works to reduce prejudice among adults in community settings, and in ways that have good uptake potential. at scale – and these surveys need to be tested in environments as close to the real world as possible.


This article was first published on Monash Lens. Read the original article


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