Psychological Self-Help

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integrated housing where it is easy to have frequent and informal contacts in
the laundry rooms, elevators, and play grounds, the answer is "yes," they
start to trust and like each other. Likewise, in the military service, after living,
fighting, and dying as equals together, blacks and whites liked each other
better than did soldiers in segregated army units. On the other hand, when
schools were integrated by law and the families involved vigorously opposed
integration, many students, who never interacted intimately with the other
races, became more prejudiced (Aronson, 1984). 
So, what are the important factors in making integration work? 
(1) Cooperation between groups for shared goals, like in the boys'
(2) Frequent, casual contact between equals, like in integrated
apartments. Contact of blacks with their white landlord or between the
black maid and her wealthy white housewife don't help much. Inviting
poor folks over to your $300,000 house for Thanksgiving dinner, no
matter how good your turkey dressing is, won't help. 
(3) A long-term cooperative working relationship. In the late 1960's,
there were two kinds of black-white groups at Southern Illinois
University: (1) encounter groups meeting for only a few hours and (2)
year-long groups for educationally disadvantaged students. There were
many verbal battles in the short-term encounter groups--some groups
had to be terminated to avoid violence. Yet, the long-term groups,
which tried to help each other survive in school, had no major racial
(4) The general social environment needs to be supportive of
integration and good relationships. If your family or friends think you
are foolish for tolerating an outgroup or if property value is expected
to go down if "their kind" move in, it is not likely that your prejudice
will decrease with exposure to this group of people, unless you are
strong enough to contradict your own social group. 
(5) The political and community leaders should make it clear that
integration is inevitable. If I know I must work with you, I will
convince myself that you are OK. As long as people think integration
can be "experimented with" and possibly delayed, the unthinking hate
remains active inside. Human rights are not negotiable, even if the
majority of people are prejudice against you, you still have equal
rights. The Bill of Rights, in fact, is ingeniously designed to protect the
minority against an unfair majority. Quick acceptance and integration
of an outgroup is better than a gradual process that creates more
prejudice (Aronson, 1984). 
(6) How we work together is important--we need to become mutually
helping equals. Just throwing different groups together in schools is
not enough--we must work closely, cooperatively, and cordially
together. Aronson (1984) developed a teaching technique that reduced
the competition and rivalry among students. He called it the
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