In the 33rd installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Keith Welker (Wayne State University) discusses how romantic partners can help increase feelings of compassion and understanding toward those with different racial backgrounds.
The research extends on other studies using a fast friends procedure, a technique that leads people to disclose a lot of personal (but appropriate) information in a short period of time. The procedure is quite effective at increasing understanding between people and increasing opportunity for friendship after the brief encounter.
In this particular study, Caucasian and African American individuals and couples were randomly assigned to self-disclose to and interact either alone with another individual or as a couple with another couple. But, in some cases the other individual (or couple) were of the same race or of a different race. Those assigned to interact with a different-race developed more positive attitudes toward that race when they engaged in the couple interaction (relative to the individual interaction).
Why would interacting with a member of a difference race in front of your romantic partner lead to more positive attitudes toward that race? Listen to the podcast to find out!
Welker, K. M., Slatcher, R. B., Baker, L., & Aron, A. (in press). Creating positive out-group attitudes through intergroup couple friendships and implications for compassionate love. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.