PEACE THROUGH RECONCILIATION: COULD POSITIVE STEREOTYPES ABOUT OUTGROUPS LEAD TO RECONCILIATION?
Da Silva, A., Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, India
With the politico-religious violence on the rise particularly in Asian countries, it seems appropriate to explore ways to counter violence through reconciliation. In my recent survey study (N=6498) on the perception of prejudice and violence between Hindus, Moslems and Christians in India, it was found that in spite of the hostility expressed through the negative stereotypes, there was also a residue of goodwill expressed through the positive stereotypes; these were manifested in the mutual perception of the three groups. Now, Tajfel's Social Identity theory stresses that positive ingroup bias tends to lead to outgroup hostility. While this finding is robust and has been repeatedly replicated, the present study indicates that outgroups may also be perceived positively on certain traits. Such a finding indicates that while prejudice may be present in intergroup relations along certain traits, it need not be present along certain other traits. Moreover, the perception of positive stereotypes of outgroups by ingroups suggests there is psychological space for the reduction of hostility and prejudice through the use of these stereotypes. Finally, the paper proposes reconciliation strategies for the reduction of intergroup hostility based on common ground. This common ground may be culled out of the positive stereotypes shared mutually by the concerned groups.