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Behavior Modification and the Problem of Racial Integration

Rosenhan, David L.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Attitude Change, Behavior Modification, Integration Readiness, Racial Differences, Racial Integration


Psychological issues relevant to racial integration and behavior modification are discussed. It is noted that research in the differential psychology of Black and White Americans has had little scientific utility for research purposes; it is best to assume that racial differences are a function of learning and culture. Two broad suggestions for behavior modification are considered. First, it easier to simply make the change, e.g., to integrate, rather than to first change people's attitudes. Positive attitudes often follow a behavioral change. Secondly, attitudes are sometimes not strongly rooted in an individual's personality, but are derived from the current social context. Thus, changing the social environment, if necessary by legislated behavior, will result in attitude change. No matter what the cause of hatred, enforcement of legislation will result in behavior change. It is also recommended that the effect of modeling appropriate integration behavior and of role models be investigated. Address delivered at winter meetings of the Psychological Association, New Brunswick, N.J., December 7, 1963.

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