Can the Social Ecological Model Help Overcome Prejudices?

  • Michael B. HinnerEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


The social ecological model takes a holistic approach to complex social issues. As such, it might offer important clues as to how prejudices could be overcome. Prejudices are negative attitudes typically directed at individuals and out-groups. An analysis of prejudices reveals that they have their origins in individuals and their social peers. The social ecological model encompasses individual characteristics as well as the social and physical environment in which individuals are raised because these social ecological factors need to be considered when seeking a means of overcoming prejudices. Another important aspect is persuasion because individuals tend to ignore information that contradicts their established attitudes while distorting information so that it fits into preexisting attitudes. According to the Social Judgement Theory, individuals are only persuaded by messages that fall within their latitudes of acceptance. The text proposes a comprehensive approach in line with the social ecological model to overcome prejudices.


Metacognition Persuasion Prejudices Social ecological model Social metacognition 


  1. Adler, R. B., Rodman, G., & du Pré, A. (2013). Understanding human communication (12th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  3. Albarracin, D. (2004). The role of defensive confidence in preference for proattitudinal information: How believing that one is strong can sometimes be a defensive weakness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(12), 1565–1584. Scholar
  4. Albarracin, D., Johnson, B. T., & Zanna, M. P. (Eds.). (2005). The handbook of attitudes. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  5. Allport, G. (1954). The nature of prejudice. New York, NY: Macmillian.Google Scholar
  6. Berger, C. R., & Calabrese, R. (1975). Some explorations in initial interactions and beyond: Toward a developmental theory of interpersonal communication. Human Communication Research, 1, 99–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brehm, J. W. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. New York, NY: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brekhus, W. H. (2015). Culture and cognition: Patterns in the social construction of reality. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  9. Brislin, R. (1991). Cross-cultural encounters: Face-to-face interaction. New York, NY: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  10. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bronfenbrenner, U., & Ceci, S. J. (1994). Nature-nurture reconceptualized in developmental perspective: A bioecological model. Pychological Review, 101(4), 568–586. Scholar
  12. Chen, G. M., & Starosta, W. J. (2000). Intercultural sensitivity. In L. A. Samovar & R. E. Porter (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (pp. 406–413). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  13. Collier, M. J., & Thomas, M. (1988). Cultural identities: An interpretive perspective. In Y. Y. Kim & W. B. Gudykunst (Eds.), Theories of intercultural communication (pp. 94–120). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Google Scholar
  14. Combs, A. W., & Snygg, D. (1959). Individual behavior (rev. ed.). New York, NY: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  15. Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2015). Applying communication theory for professional life: A practical introduction (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. DeVito, J. A. (2015). The interpersonal communication book (14th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.Google Scholar
  17. Doise, W. (1986). Levels of explanatioin in social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Dong, Q., Day, K. D., & Collaco, C. M. (2008). Overcoming ethnocentrism through developing intercultural communication sensitivity and multiculturalism. Human Communication, 11(1), 27–38.Google Scholar
  19. Drake, L. E., & Donohue, W. A. (1996). Communicative framing theory in conflict resolution. Communication Research, 23(3), 297–322. Scholar
  20. Dunning, D. A., & Kruger, J. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(6), 1121–1134. Scholar
  21. Eagly, A. H., & Chaiken, S. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt, Brace & Janovich.Google Scholar
  22. Entorf, H., & Lange, M. (2019). Refugees welcome? Understanding the regional heterogeneity of anti- foreigner hate crimes in Germany. Discussion paper ZEW no. 19-005.Google Scholar
  23. Fazio, R. H. (1986). How do attitudes guide behavior? In R. M. Sorrentino & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), The handbook of motivation and cognition: Foundations of social behavior (pp. 204–243). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  24. Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Fredrickson, G. M. (2005). Mulattoes and metis: Attitudes toward miscegenation in the United States and France since the seventeenth century. International Social Science Journal., 57(183), 103–112. Scholar
  26. Gagnon, A., & Bourhis, R. Y. (1996). Discrimination in the minimal group paradigm: Categorization, reciprocation, or fear? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 77–94.Google Scholar
  27. Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. (2012). Communication works (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  28. Gass, R. H., & Seiter, J. S. (2014). Persuasion, social influence and compliance gaining (5th ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  29. Greenholtz, J. (2000). Accessing cross-cultural competence in transnational education: The intercultural development inventory. Higher Education in Europe, 25(3), 411–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gudykunst, W. B. (Ed.). (1988). Language and ethnic identity. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  31. Hamachek, D. (1992). Encounters with the self (3rd ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  32. Hart, W., Albarracin, D., Eagly, A. H., Brechan, I., Lindberg, M. J., & Merrill, L. (2009). Feeling validated versus being correct: A meta-analysis of selective exposure to information. Psychological Bulletin, 135(4), 555–588. Scholar
  33. Hinner, M. B. (2018). Social ecological perspective on intercultural communication. In Y. Y. Kim (Ed.), The international encyclopedia of intercultural communication) (pp. 1789–1796). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell.Google Scholar
  34. Jonas, E., Schulz-Hardt, S., Frey, D., & Thelen, N. (2001). Confirmation bias in sequential information search after preliminary decisions: An expansion of dissonance theoretical research on selective exposure to information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 557–571. Scholar
  35. Kastenmüller, A., Greitemeyer, T., Jonas, E., Fischer, P., & Frey, D. (2010). Selective exposure: The impact of collectivism and individualism. British Journal of Social Psychology, 49(4), 745–763. Scholar
  36. Kelman, H. C. (1961). Processes of opinion change. Public Opinion Quarterly, 25, 57–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Keltikangas, J. (1990). The stability of self-concept during adolescence and early adulthood: A six year follow-up study. Journal of General Psychology, 117, 361–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Klapper, J. T. (1960). The effects of mass communication. New York, NY: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  39. Klopf, D. W. (1998). Intercultural encounters: The fundamentals of intercultural communication (4th ed.). Englewood, CO: Morton Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  40. Likert, R. (1967). The human organization: Its management and value. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  41. Lin, S. (2002). Veränderung von Vorurteilen aus sozialpsychologischer Sicht. Berlin: Berghof Foundation Operations GmbH.Google Scholar
  42. Lustig, M. W., & Koester, J. (2013). Intercultural competence: Interpersonal communication across cultures. Boston, MA: Pearson.Google Scholar
  43. O’Keefe, D. J. (2002). Persuasion: Theory and research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  44. Perreault, H. S., & Bourhis, R. Y. (1998). Social identification, interdependence and discrimination. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 1, 49–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2008). How does intergroup contact reduce prejudice? Meta-analytic tests of three mediators. European Journal of Social Psychology, 38(6), 922–934. Scholar
  46. Piaget, J. (1954). The construction of reality in the child. New York, NY: Basic Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rochat, P. (2013). Five levels of self-awareness as they unfold early in life. Consciousness and Cognition, 12(4), 717–731. Scholar
  48. Roloff, M. E., & Wright, C. N. (2013). Social cognition and conflict. In J. G. Oetzel & S. Ting-Toomey (Eds.), The Sage handbook of conflict communication: Integrating theory, research, and practice (2nd ed., pp. 133–160). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rosnow, R. L. (1972). Poultry and prejudice. Psychologist Today, 5(10), 53–56.Google Scholar
  50. Rubin, M., & Badea, C. (2012). They’re all the same!… But for several different reasons: A review of perceived group variability. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(6), 367–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Salancik, G. R., & Pfeffer, J. (1978). A social information processing approach to job attitudes and task design. Administration Science Quarterly, 23(2), 224–253. Scholar
  52. Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., McDaniel, E. R., & Roy, C. S. (2013). Communication between cultures (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  53. Sherif, M., & Hovland, C.I. (1961; rpt. 1980). Social judgement: Assimilation and contrast effects in communication and attitude change. Westport, CT: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  54. Sillars, A. L. (2010). Interpersonal conflict. In C. R. Berger, M. E. Roloff, & D. R. Roskos-Ewoldsen (Eds.), The handbook of communication science (2nd ed., pp. 273–290). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Snyder, M. (1987). Public appearances, private realities: The psychology of self-monitoring. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman.Google Scholar
  56. Stangor, C., & Schaller, M. (1996). Stereotypes as individual and collective representations. In C. N. Macrae, C. Stangor, & M. Hewstone (Eds.), Stereotypes and stereotyping (pp. 3–40). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  57. Sullivan, L. (Ed.). (2009). Selective exposure. In The Sage glossary of social and behavioral sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  58. Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (Eds.), Psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 7–24). Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
  59. Thomas, A. (2006). Die Bedeutung von Vorurteil und Stereotyp im interkulturellen Handeln. Interculture Journal, 2, 3–20.Google Scholar
  60. Thompson, M. S., Judd, C. M., & Park, B. (2000). The consequences of communicating social stereotypes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 567–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Turner, J. C. (1975). Social comparison and social identity: Some prospects for intergroup behavior. European Journal of Social Psychology, 5, 5–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Van Dijk, T. (1987). Communicating racism: Ethnic prejudice in thought and talk. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  63. Wade, C., Tavris, C., & Garry, M. (2014). Psychology (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.Google Scholar
  64. Wahl, D. (2000). Nationale Stereotypen am Beispiel: Deutschland—Frankreich. Munich: GRIN Verlag.Google Scholar
  65. Yep, G. A. (1998). My three cultures: Navigating the multicultural identity landscape. In J. N. Martin, T. K. Nakayama, & L. A. Flores (Eds.), Readings in cultural contexts (pp. 79–85). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.Google Scholar
  66. Yzerbyt, V. Y., Coull, A., & Rocher, S. J. (1999). Fencing off the deviant: The role of cognitive resources in the maintenance of stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(3), 449–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TU Bergakademie FreibergFreibergGermany

Personalised recommendations