OP-ED: Reducing the Social Distance Between Minority Teens and Police

Juvenile Justice Exchange

October 7, 2013


Emory Bogardus developed in the 1920s the “social distance scale,” which has been used extensively to measure attitudes among racial groups. Bogardus’ research found that as contact and familiarity increase, social distance decreases. Put another way, as we spend more time around people of or from a different race, ethnicity, age, geographic location, or sexual orientation the stereotypes and damaging preconceived notions we hold about them decrease or are eliminated. Thus when social distance is reduced the characteristics of the person, rather than the image of the group, become most dominant.
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