Just Thinking About Cooperation Can Make You Less Prejudiced

“Just looking at the anticipation of cooperation triggers more positivity towards an out-group,” says Antonia Misch. “This could be a first, important step in helping people engage in more positive interactions.” In another part of the study, Misch and Yarrow Dunham repeated their experiment, but with a difference: They had the kids actually play the cooperative game together (or think they were playing together; in reality, they were playing alone). The researchers found that playing the game with others didn’t further reduce in-group favoritism, suggesting that anticipating cooperation may be as effective as actual cooperation in reducing bias. This is important, says Misch, because while past research has found that cooperation between groups reduces prejudice and bias, her study is the first to show that simply anticipating cooperation can make a difference.

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