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Improving Intergroup Perceptions


Entry requirements

Only open to MSc Psychology (research) students


Inter-group conflict is to an important extent rooted in the way people perceive the social world: Stereotypes and knowledge about group-membership color judgements about in-group and out-group members. Thus, a logical way to improve inter-group relations is to change inter-group perceptions.
In the current course we discuss state-of-the-art cognitive and neuroscientific research on social categorization, inter-group bias, stereotypes, and prejudice, and evaluate how this work can provide a starting points for designing interventions for inter-group conflict.
More specifically, the course consists of two parts. In the first part we discuss basic research on social perception. Students present research and learn to write professional reviews of research articles. In the second part we discuss different intervention methods, based on for example inter-group contact or altering social categorization. Students learn to apply these insights to a self-chosen problem in the context of inter-group relations. The final paper combines the two learning goals of first critically reviewing and synthesizing basic research findings and then applying these in developing an intervention strategy.

Course objectives

During the course, students:
1. Learn about the psychology of bias in inter-group perceptions, and ways to reduce these
2. Learn to look critically at research, and write professional review reports
3. Learn to apply theory and research to interventions for inter-group conflict

Mode of instruction

7 2-hour work group sessions (attendance of all sessions is mandatory). Timetable

Assessment method

The final grade is based on:

  • organization of a seminar (30%; objective 1, 2)

  • six review reports (30%, objective 1, 2)

  • a policy recommendation report (40%, objective 3)

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Readings list

Selection of scientific articles, e.g.,

Amodio, D. M. (2014). The neuroscience of prejudice and stereotyping. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15, 670-682.
Dovidio, J., F., Love, A., Schellhaas, F., M., H., & Hewstone, M. (2017). Reducing intergroup bias through intergroup contact: Twenty years of progress and future directions. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 20, 606-620.
Kawakami, K., Amodio, D. M., & Hugenberg, K. (2017). Intergroup perception and cognition: An integrative framework for understanding the causes and consequences of social categorization. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 55, 1-80.
Moss-Racusin C. A., Van der Toorn J., Dovidio J.F., Brescoll V. F., Graham M. J., & Handelsman, J. (2014), Scientific diversity interventions, Science, 343, 615-616.

Contact information

Dr. Daan Scheepers