Intergroup Dialogue

Adrienne B. Dessel, Associate Director of The Program on Intergroup Relations at the University of Michigan discusses her article, “Effects of Intergroup Dialogue: Public School Teachers and Sexual Orientation Prejudice”, published in the October 2010 issue of Small Group Research.

Who is the target audience for this article?

 The target audience is public school administrators, intergroup dialogue practitioners, researchers and practitioners interested in intervention research, translational research, community-based research, and prejudice reduction research. Additionally, researchers and practitioners who focus on LGBT populations, and youth and bullying/school violence.

 What Inspired You To Be Interested In This Topic?

My inspiration came from two avenues- an interest in conducting experimental community based research that tackles a real time serious issue such as school bullying/violence, and an interest in examining the processes and outcomes of intergroup dialogue as a method of prejudice reduction.

Were There Findings That Were Surprising To You?

One finding that was surprising was that intrinsic religiosity was not correlated with any of the dependent variables. As discussed in the article, many of the teachers were striving to be accepting, and may have been working towards reconciling their religious beliefs with LGB acceptance. I was also surprised at the level of behavior change and commitment to change from the teachers, and the nature of teachers’ ability to challenge their own socialization process around LGB identity.

How Do You See This Study Influencing Future Research And/Or Practice?

The next steps after this study would be replicating it with a larger sample, and including participants who had lower pre-test means on the dependent variables of interest. It would be optimal to engage participants in a more sustained dialogue program than the three sessions, over the course of a semester or year, ideally. Measuring implicit attitudes would also be important.

How Does This Study Fit Into Your Body Of Work/Line Of Research?

This study fits into my research program as it focuses on contributing to the body of knowledge on intergroup dialogue, and prejudice/conflict reduction interventions in community settings. This works relates to social justice education in public school settings as well.

How Did Your Paper Change During The Review Process?

The paper was revised numerous times, as it began as a dissertation. It was reduced significantly, and then important areas of focus were refined and highlighted based on reviewer comments.

What, If Anything, Would You Do Differently If You Could Go Back And Do This Study Again?

I would seek to recruit more teachers to participate, and would extend the length of the intervention in order to achieve a deeper more sustained dialogue process for all participants.

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