Pro-Action Myths About Prejudicial Behavior Taining Alert

Trainer Alert

Number One

A recent study shows that thoughts that are suppressed return with greater strength and possibly more resistance to being avoided in the future. Having people avoid thinking prejudicial thoughts either in structured exercises or in informal ways is likely to create a situation for "prejudicial thought rebound."

Suggested Action
Use thought replacement not thought suppression as suggested in Part II video A of Beyond Prejudice. As the program suggests, thought replacement is more powerful and more effective in reducing prejudicial thoughts. For more information on this technique consult the handout, Changing Personal Patterns of Prejudicial Behavior. If this recent research had found that anything suggested within Beyond Prejudice was likely to result in harmful results you would have been notified of that as well.
IllustrationTry not to think of a favorite food. If you like chocolate, try real hard to not imagine the color and smell of chocolate. Try to not imagine the texture and the feel of chocolate in your hand and in your mouth. Try to keep that thought out of your mind all together. The evidence seems to be that if you work really hard at this task then you will have stronger thoughts of chocolate in the future. The idea being that you will have chocolate image rebound. This chocolate exercise might work real well if you were trying to avoid thoughts of celery but according to a recent study be less than helpful in reducing ones' thoughts of chocolate. While this may seem to be a silly exercise the dynamic here is important. Giving people the idea that they should avoid prejudicial thoughts is likely to have the same effect. Telling people, suggesting or implying that they should not think a specific way or should feel guilty if they do think prejudicial thoughts is basically the same process. Thus we need to replace prejudicial thoughts not suppress them..

Example of replacement
Each time you encounter chocolate imagine the texture of celery, the light green, the nearly white color of fresh crisp celery. Imagine the sounds of the crisp celery crunching in your mouth and the moisture being released with all its freshness. Imagine the celery strings and the sounds of the fresh wet celery as you crunch it in your mouth releasing its moisture and its healthy fibers.
SummaryReplacement is more effective than suppression.

ReferenceMacrae, C. Neil & Bodenhausen, Galen V.& Milne, Alan B. & Jetten, Jolanda "Out of Mind but Back in Sight: Stereotypes on the Rebound" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 67, No. 5, 808-817

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Understanding Prejudicial Behavior

Who Can Reduce Prejudicial Behavior

Reducing Prejudices within an Organization

Some Impacts of Prejudicial Behavior

Assessing Your Knowledge of Prejudices

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Some Dynamics of Prejudicial Behavior

Assessing Your Own Prejudices

Our Connection to Others, the Earth and Future

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Reducing Your Prejudicial Behavior

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