Washington, May 20 IANS | 5 months ago

In what could expand the definition of discrimination, scholars have found that most discrimination is not caused by intention to harm people different from us, but by favouritism directed at helping people similar to us.

Unequal treatment in the form of doing favours for those like you, rather than inflicting harm on those unlike you, causes the majority of discrimination in the US, the researchers noted.

"We can produce discrimination without having any intent to discriminate or any dislike for those who end up being disadvantaged by our behaviour," said psychologist Tony Greenwald of University of Washington.

Most researchers tend to define discrimination as based on negative attitudes and hostility, only rarely treating favouritism as a component of discrimination.

For the study, researchers reviewed experiments and survey methods from published scientific research on discrimination from the last five decades.

Discrimination observed in those studies occurred much more often as helping rather than harming someone.

Discrimination therefore comprises more subtle acts, ones people do not even recognise as causing disadvantage to anyone, that are likely to be much more significant.

"Hostility is not integral to the definition of discrimination; you can treat people differently without being hostile to anyone," Greenwald emphasised, in the study that appeared in the journal American Psychologist.

(Posted on 20-05-2014)

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