Can Anything Be Done to Address Race and Racism in Constructive Ways?September 10, 20202 min read
Social psychologist Linda Tropp, professor of psychological and brain sciences at UMass Amherst, is an award-winning expert in techniques and practices that reduce inter-group prejudice within racial and ethnic encounters, for example.
Tropp has also examined how groups of different status and power interact and experience contact. She has studied and can discuss the legacies of inequality and conflict that form a group’s perspectives and motivations and she uses experimental and research methods to identify mechanisms that could be used to strengthen positive relations and social justice.
Among her other research on these topics, a report by Tropp and several leading social scholars addressed “a great American racial disconnect” – the vast majority of Americans believe racism is wrong, yet the evidence overwhelmingly shows that race often determines how we treat each other. It was the first in a landmark series by the Perception Institute that was intended to help understand the challenges associated with achieving racial equality and to provide evidence-based, tested solutions to address them.
She is experienced with media including television and can discuss key factors that are critical to understanding the ways in which people often act differently towards others based on their race or ethnicity. The first is implicit bias – automatic associations and attitudes linked to race and ethnicity. Second is racial anxiety – the fear that you will be judged because of your race, and, especially if you are white, that you will be assumed to be racist. Third is stereotype threat – concern that you will confirm negative stereotypes about your group.
In addition to the 2018 Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP), Tropp received the Erikson Early Career Award from the International Society of Political Psychology, the McKeachie Early Career Award from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology and the Allport Intergroup Relations Prize from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.
In 2016, she was an invited panelist of expert psychologists who briefed Congress on the psychology of prejudice and discrimination in the context of immigration in Washington, D.C. She and colleagues discussed psychological factors that lead to biases – the psychological, physical and economic effects on individuals and communities and the empirically-based policy solutions that address these biases.
Linda Tropp Professor of Social Psychology
Linda Tropp's research looks at how people’s group membership effects how we see and experience our relationships with other people.