A study by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, Santa Cruz found that most discrimination in this country is favoritism directed at helping friends, family, or people of similar backgrounds or characteristics rather than mean-spirited dislike or prejudice against others.
Anthony G. Greenwald, a psychologist at the University of Washington and co-author of the study, stated, “We can produce discrimination without having any intent to discriminate or any dislike for those who end up being disadvantaged by our behavior.” Yet the authors found that historically, social scientists have emphasized prejudicial hostility as the root cause of most discrimination.
“Hostility isn’t integral to the definition of discrimination; you can treat people differently without being hostile to anyone,” Professor Greenwald said. “But it is societally important to understand how discrimination can occur both without hostility and without any intent to discriminate.”
The article, “With Malice Toward None and Charity for Some: Ingroup Favoritism Enables Discrimination,” has been published on the website of the journal American Psychologist. It may be accessed here.