Chapter

Peace Psychology in Australia

Part of the series Peace Psychology Book Series pp 197-219

Date:

Hidden Obstacles to Reconciliation in Australia: The Persistence of Stereotypes

  • Nikola BalvinAffiliated withSchool of Law, La Trobe University Email author 
  • , Yoshihisa KashimaAffiliated withPsychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne

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Abstract

The reconciliation movement in Australia aims to build mutually respectful relationships between indigenous and other Australians by eliminating ‘gaps’ in health and well-being, educating about Indigenous history and culture and addressing social disadvantages based on false beliefs and stereotypes. Psychological literature has much to offer to the last aim, with a wealth of research documenting the negative overtone of intrapersonal processes such as attitudes, false beliefs and stereotype knowledge about Aboriginal Australians, and also suggesting approaches for improving them. However, stereotypes and false beliefs are also transmitted through interpersonal processes, such as communication between individuals motivated to engage with each other. Research shows that in such social interactions, stereotypes are persistent and difficult to change and new strategies are needed to achieve positive transformations. This chapter outlines the way interpersonal communication contributes to the circulation of Aboriginal stereotypes in society and the complexities encountered when applying normative and informational social influence strategies to change such stereotypes. In doing so, it highlights value similarities between peace psychology and the reconciliation movement and demonstrates the importance of empirically testing social action interventions prior to their application, so that reconciliation between Indigenous and other Australians is promoted and not inadvertently impeded.