Measuring and Reducing False Perceptions
In Beyond Conflict’s hometown of Boston, a series of well-publicized studies and initiatives on racism and the racial wealth divide have been met with little meaningful progress in reducing the structural barriers that sustain racial inequalities in wealth and opportunity. To tackle this challenge, Beyond Conflict aims to employ cutting-edge research methodologies to identify the psychological barriers to acknowledging the scale of racial wealth inequality. Beyond Conflict also seeks to better understand misperceptions about the racial wealth divide and design specific interventions to shift attitudes in a way that increases support for policies that will close or meaningfully narrow the racial wealth divide.
Why use psychology in this new approach? False perceptions of the racial wealth divide, particularly those held by individuals in positions of power and privilege, are shaped by a predominant belief that our nation has substantially progressed toward reducing racial wealth inequality. This, in turn, limits demand and support for prosocial policies designed to dismantle the structures that sustain the status quo. The racial wealth divide, nationally or locally, cannot be addressed if it is not acknowledged and understood from the roots of its psychological causes.
With support from the Cummings Foundation, Beyond Conflict will produce a quantitative study comparing attitudes on the racial wealth divide in the Greater Boston area to attitudes in a national context, and assess the efficacy of a novel intervention designed to shift related attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. This work supports a longer-term aim to produce a first-of-its-kind, science-informed action plan to increase citizen demand for policy changes that may help close the racial wealth divide.
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