Concepts underlying Inter-group Bias and Hate

As a starting point, here are some underlying concepts that I think are needed for productive discussions on how to reduce the amount of inter-group bias and hate:

  • inter-generational effects of trauma and oppression
  • population distribution statistics
  • cognitive distortions
  • de-mythologized world history
  • comparative religions and belief systems

Some of the most emotionally-laden and polarizing public policy issues revolve around inter-group relations, with conflicts rooted deep in narrowly-focused history and religious teachings reinforced by general misunderstanding of statistics, cognitive distortions, and psychology.

There is an apparently universal human tendency to divide the world into “us” and “them” (with “us” being in some way superior to “them”).  The consequences of this sort of bias range from mundane daily off-handed insults, exclusion, and loss of opportunity, to physical assaults, ethnic cleansing, and extermination.

Attempts to forcefully dismantle these divisions often result in hardened attitudes.  Public shaming also seems to have a similar effect.  Undermining this tendency seems to require a deliberate effort of openness to new information and experiences by each individual, especially when the bias and hate were implanted as a child.

One part of this effort hinges on the person’s ability to understand data that clearly shows that the differences between groups are smaller than the differences between individuals with the groups.  Other parts include accepting that there are legitimate historical narratives that are at odds with your own, that there are other belief systems equally as valid as your own, and that your thinking is influenced by unfounded, and largely subconscious, personal cognitive distortions and biases.


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Making these discussions more productive