A theoretical approach to ethnic differences in perceptions and reactions to multicultural and assimilation strategies of prejudice reduction

Azenett Azara Garza Caballero, University of Texas at El Paso


Two studies examine the differential impact of multicultural and assimilation perspectives on prejudice towards others by Mexican-Americans and White Americans. The first study investigated the naturally occurring perceptions of multiculturalism and assimilation in majority and minority ethnic group members. In addition, it investigated the effects of these perceptions on prejudice. The second study investigated if minority and majority ethnic group members reacted differently to arguments regarding the benefits and limitations of multiculturalism and assimilation. Four different vignettes were presented to participants, a Pro-multicultural, an Anti-multicultural, a Pro-Assimilation, and an Anti-Assimilation. ^ Two hundred and thirty (124 White Americans and 106 Mexican Americans) students participated in study 1 and one hundred and fifty three (55 White Americans and 98 Mexican Americans) students participated in study 2. Participants were recruited from the Midwest and the border region of the U.S. Results of the first study demonstrated that Mexican Americans view their ethnic identity and their American identity as highly important yet separate concepts, whereas for White Americans they are separate concepts. In addition, greater ethnic identity was associated with greater openness to diversity for Mexican Americans but not for White Americans. Results of the second study made evident that both Mexican Americans and White Americans can benefit from multicultural perspectives in reducing prejudice and increasing openness to diversity. Four competing, although not mutually exclusive theoretical approaches, were presented to account for the results: the Common In-group Approach, Distinctiveness Approach, Anticipated Change Approach, and Threat/Saliency approach. Results eliminated the Common In-group Approach and provided some support for the Distinctiveness and Threat/Saliency Approach. Results also supported a modified Anticipated Change Approach. Future research and implications of findings are discussed in terms of intergroup relations. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Garza Caballero, Azenett Azara, "A theoretical approach to ethnic differences in perceptions and reactions to multicultural and assimilation strategies of prejudice reduction" (2003). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3118499.