Running head: prejudice and discrimination activities for Teaching about Prejudice and Discrimination

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Activities for Teaching about Prejudice and Discrimination

Mary E. Kite Stephen A. Gabourel Hannah E. Ballas

Khyrstin L. Chance Samantha M. Ellison Seth B. Johnson

Kelly L. Meredith Daniel Na LaDeidre Robinson

Austin B. Russell Bridget Ryan Marli D. Simpson

William T. Stuller Nicole Szoko Haley M. Turk
Ball State University
Erin Crawford Cressy
Cressy Consulting, South Bend, Indiana
Donna Stringer
Cross Cultural Consultant, Seattle, Washington
Author Contact Information:

Mary E. Kite

Department of Psychological Science

Ball State University

Muncie, IN 47306

(765) 285-8197

Copyright 2013 by Virginia Ball Center, Ball State University except Module 1, copyright 2007 by Donna Stringer, PhD and the Cognitive Dissonance graph (p. 29), copyright 2010 by Cressy, Bazata, & Harris. All rights reserved. You may reproduce multiple copies of this material for your own personal use, including use in your classes and/or sharing with individual colleagues as long as the author’s name and institution and the Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology heading or other identifying information appear on the copied document. No other permission is implied or granted to print, copy, reproduce, or distribute additional copies of this material. Anyone who wishes to produce copies for purposes other than those specified above must obtain the permission of Donna L. Stringer (for Module 1; Ph: 206-779-2814; email; Erin Crawford Cressy (for Cognitive Dissonance graph; Ph 575-360-1766; email: or Mary Kite (for all other modules). Third and subsequent authors contributed equally to this work.

The following classroom activities were developed by students at Ball State University for the immersive learning seminar Breaking the Prejudice Habit, led by Mary Kite, Department of Psychological Science. These activities can be used to help students identify their stereotypic beliefs and prejudices, the sources of those beliefs and attitudes, and the behaviors that stem from them. Two of the activities focus on the historical bases of prejudice and discrimination, particularly in the United States. These activities were designed for high school and college level students but can be tailored to be suitable for younger students.

About our Project

Fourteen students…One instructor… Fifteen weeks…A single united cause… to break the habit of prejudice and discrimination against any and all groups by promoting Awareness through education, Harmony through understanding, and Acceptance through experience. This was the mission of our group, called the AHA Advocates.

In our seminar, we studied the problem of prejudice in depth. To do so, we examined social science research and consulted with our community partners, including the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, about strategies to reduce prejudice. We also invited speakers, including Jeffrey Mio (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona), Linda Tropp (University of Massachusettes, Amherst) and Erin Crawford Cressy, President of Cressy Consulting. Each of them led full day workshops on the topic. Dr. Cressy was also one of our community partners. We explored the historical roots of prejudice and discrimination through a 2-day trip to Indianapolis and Cincinnati; we visited the Crispus Attucks Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of the American Indian and Western Art, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. The 14 seminar participants majored in these disciplines: Anthropology, Communication Studies, Creative Writing, Digital Media, Global Humanitarianism and Social Justice, Psychological Science, Sociology, Spanish, Telecommunications, and Women’s and Gender Studies.
In addition to the teaching activities described here, the students

  • Produced five public service announcements.

  • Interviewed social justice advocates.

  • Created an annotated list of short videos addressing prejudice and discrimination.

  • Created a website ( that contains the above and also includes an information page about each participant, definitions of key terms, a list of songs addressing social justice issues, and photos of our journey.

  • Presented our work at a public showcase; a webstream of this event is available here (

Our project was funded by the Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry (VBC) at Ball State University (

Review of Activities. Most of the activities described here were created by the seminar participants, working together or individually. Exceptions were Modules 1 and 6, which were provided by our community partner, Cressy Consulting. Dr. Cressy also provided feedback on all of the activities. In addition, we used Modules 3 and 5 in two sections of a diversity class at Ball State. As part of the public presentation of our work, showcase attendees participated in a demonstration based on Modules 8 and 11; they also viewed our Public Service Announcements ( Modules were revised based on the feedback we received and the suggestions provided by three anonymous reviewers from the Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology (OTRP) and OTRP’s Director, Ruth Ault. We sincerely thank everyone who provided feedback about our work; it was invaluable.
Table of Contents

Module Number




Insider/Outsider Activity



National African American History Museum Activity



Subtle Prejudice Activity



Identity Star Activity



Social Media Activity



Understanding Cognitive Dissonance Activity



Nonverbal Communication Activity



Entertainment Personality Group Activity



Physical Appearance Categorization Activity



Microaggression Activity



Gender Stereotypes Activity



Gay Rights Movement Timeline Activity


Module 1

Insider/Outsider Activity

Author: Donna Stringer
Objective: During this activity, students identify aspects of inclusion and exclusion, also commonly known as insider and outsider groupings. One objective of this activity is to ensure that all students realize that everyone has experienced being both an "insider" and being an "outsider." Another objective is to encourage students to take the perspective of those who are excluded and to consider how those negative feelings affect others’ behavior in social situations. This activity can be completed in small or large groups and can be used as an icebreaker at the beginning of the semester or as a way to generate discussion about ingroups and outgroups when that topic is addressed in a course.

  • Two flip charts or a board on which to write lists in front of the class

  • Marker or chalk to write on chart or board.

In preparation for this exercise, label one flip chart (or side of board) “Excluded” and the other “Included.” Each should be divided down the middle with a line. The left hand side of each should be labeled “feeling” and the right hand side labeled “behaviors.”

Estimated Time: 10-20 minutes
Group Size: This activity can be adjusted for different group sizes.
Step One: Collect Outsider Emotions

  • Explain that this exercise will help students experience what it feels like to be both an outsider and an insider.

  • Ask students to think of a time when they were in a team or a group and they were different from others in the group.

  • Students then think of one or two words that describes how they felt at that time.

  • After students have had time to think of the words, they walk around the room, introducing themselves to as many people as possible, using those words. Provide an example (e.g., Hi! I’m awkward and confused.) For larger groups, they can turn to the two or three others standing next to them and introduce themselves using those words. Another option for large groups is to have students text their emotions using the online software Poll Everywhere ( or use clickers. The instructor can then project the results to the class.

Step Two: Collect Outsider Feelings

  • Have students call out what feeling words they heard. Record them under the “Different Feelings” column.

Step Three: Collect Insider Feelings:

  • Without going through the step of introductions, have students think of a time when they were in a team or group and felt included.

  • Have them call out words that describe how they felt in that situation.

Step Four: Collect Insider and Outsider Behaviors

  • Ask students to list their behaviors when they felt they were excluded by the group. Provide an example (e.g., I would not participate in the discussion if I felt excluded).

  • Repeat this procedure for the times they felt included. Provide an example (e.g., I might talk to the person next to me if I felt included).

  • Watch that they actually use behavioral words; participants have a tendency to use feeling words again. For example, if someone says “I would act angry,” ask them how they would act when they felt angry.

Points for Discussion:

  1. Typically, people remember more times when they felt different than when they felt similar because (a) it is easier to recall negative experiences and (b) the power of being similar is that people don't need to pay much attention to their feelings and behaviors.

  2. Feelings and behaviors when people feel excluded tend to be more negative; feelings and behaviors when people feel included tend to be positive. Students may report some negative emotions in the “included” category and some positive emotions in the “excluded” category. If so, the instructor can point out that there are positives and negatives in both experiences but that the preponderance of feelings and behaviors is positive when people believe they fit in and negative when people feel they are excluded.

  3. There is a link between feeling excluded or included and people’s behaviors. For example, people who feel included participate more and are more likely to take on a leadership role.

  4. Using empathy — remembering how participants felt when they were different — can be very effective in helping to identify ways to include the person who may be feeling different in a situation (e.g., a new student; someone who has just moved from another area or country; someone who is visibly different from others). When people see the behaviors of the outsider, instead of labeling others, people can use empathy to ask if they are possibly feeling like an outsider and ask how they can help them feel more included.

  5. People don’t have to look like, act like, dress like, and sound like others in order to feel included. If they are part of groups that value differences, they can feel like insiders regardless of differences.

Background Research: Social identity is the part of a person’s self-concept that derives from membership in groups that are important to them (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). Research shows that people are motivated to have a positive social identity and that when they feel connected to a social group, their self-esteem is higher and they feel safe and accepted (Hogg & Abrams, 1990; Mio, Barker, & Tumambing, 2012). In contrast, when people feel excluded, rejected, or ignored by others, they experience hurt feelings and are likely to withdraw from the interaction (Williams, 2001). When people consider how another individual is affected by her or his social situation, they are more likely to feel empathy for this person and to value that person’s experience (Batson, Chang, Orr, & Rowland, 2002).
Batson, C. D. Chang, J., Orr, R. & Rowland, J. (2002). Empathy, attitudes, and action: Can feeling for a member of a stigmatized group motivate one to help the group? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1656-1666.
Hogg, M. A., & Abrams, D. (1990). Social motivation, self-esteem, and social identity. In D. Abrams & M. A. Hogg (Eds.), Social identity theory: Constructive and critical advances (pp. 28-47). New York, NY: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Mio, J. S., Barker, L. A., & Tumambing, J. S. (2012). Multicultural psychology: Understanding our diverse communities (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Tajfel, H. & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), Psychology of intergroup relations (2nd ed., pp. 7-27). Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall.

Williams, K. D. (2001). Ostracism: The power of silence. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Module 2

National African American History Museum Activity

Author: Mary E. Kite
Objective: This activity is a nonthreatening way to get students to discuss diversity-related issues in a group setting. The goal of the activity is to facilitate productive conversation about race and racism in the United States.

  • Worksheet (see Page 9)

  • Access to a media player and the following story from National Public Radio: Susan Stamberg interviews Lonnie Bunch, the museum curator about the artifacts being assembled for the National Museum of African American History and Culture being built in the National Mall. (“Assembling Artifacts of African-American History”).

Estimated Time: 25-35 minutes

Group Size: This activity works best with a class size of 30 or fewer; if used with larger groups, limit the group size to between 7 and 10 and have more than one group consider each question.
Instructions: Have the class listen to the story. You can also show photos from the museum archives (available at the story link) while the audio is playing. Then, divide the class into four groups by assigning each person a letter from A through D. Each group gets a different set of questions. Allow the groups to talk among themselves for 10-15 minutes. Have the group members assign one person to be the reporter. Bring the groups back together and ask each reporter to read the group’s questions aloud (one at a time) and summarize the group’s discussion of that question. After each group explains its answers, open the floor for students from other groups to share their thoughts about the question.
Background Research: Many people are uncomfortable talking about race, in part because they lack knowledge and understanding about people who have different racial backgrounds from them and, relatedly, because discussions of race and racism is taboo in American culture (Singleton & Linton, 2006). People also are often unaware of how their culture (defined as the “unique meaning and information system shared by a group and transmitted across generations;” Matsumoto & Juang, 2008, p. 12) affects their beliefs, values, attitudes and opinions. In the U.S., there is strong cultural support for the idea that to be “American” is to be “White” (Devos & Banaji, 2005) but Whites are often unaware of the extent to which they are free to ignore their whiteness and the privileges that it extends to them (Case, 2012; see also Sue, 2003). Addressing these issues is one way to begin the dialogue about them.


Case, K. A. (2012). Discovering the privilege of whiteness: White women’s reflections on anti-racist identity and ally behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 68, 78-96.

Devos, T., & Banaji, M. R. (2005). American = White? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 447-466.
Matsumoto, D., & Juang, L. (2008). Culture and psychology (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Singleton, G. E., & Linton, L. (2006). Courageous conversations about race: A field guide for achieving equity in schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
Sue, D. W. (2003). Overcoming our racism: The journey to liberation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Worksheet — National Museum of African American History and Culture Activity
Discussion Questions: Group A

  1. If you were the curator for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, what four artifacts would you include and why?

  1. In Washington D.C. there is now a National Museum of the American Indian and National Museum of Women in the Arts (among others). As we heard in the radio story, there will soon be a National Museum of African American History. Why were these specialized museums built? Do you agree or disagree with that purpose? What does this reason say about the purpose (and exhibits) in the other museums, like the Museum of American History?

Discussion Questions: Group B

  1. What does it mean to be an American?

  1. The museum curator states that the shackles from the slave trade are sacred objects. What did he mean? How did you react to that? Explain your answer.

Discussion Questions: Group C

  1. How do you believe many White Americans would react to a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture? Explain your answer.

  1. The curator is quoted as saying: “This is not a Black story. This is my story. This is the American story.” Do you agree or disagree? Do you think most Americans will agree or disagree? Explain your answer.

Discussion Questions: Group D

  1. The interviewer asks whether Obama’s election negates the need for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Why did she ask that question? Do you agree or disagree with the curator’s answer? Explain your answer.

  1. White people often feel guilt about racism against African Americans and/or about slavery. Do you think they feel guilt about other acts in U.S. history, such as the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII or the failure to allow refugees from the Holocaust into the United States (even after Americans knew about Nazi atrocities)? Explain your answer.

Module 3

Subtle Prejudice Activity

Authors: Khyrstin L. Chance and Nicole Szoko
Objective: This activity is designed to create awareness of how subtle beliefs and behaviors can affect social interactions in everyday life. This activity is meant to evoke thought and reflection about situations where race, gender, sexuality, disability, weight, and age can affect interactions. Students can think about whether their stereotypes and attitudes influence their own and others’ behavior.

  • Worksheet (Pages 12-14)

  • Discussion questions (Page 15)

Estimated Time: 20-30 minutes, including instructor-facilitated discussion.
Group Size: This activity works best with a class size of 30 or fewer, but it could be modified for a larger class by having the instructor rotate among the groups while they discuss the topic or by having teaching assistants facilitate discussion in smaller groups.
Instructions: Each participant receives a questionnaire and rates each situation from 1 = very comfortable to 5 = very uncomfortable. Each participant should then sum all the points per section and record the score for each section on the worksheet. After students review their scores, they answer the review questions individually; a group discussion based on the review questions follows. Students might find some of the questions do not apply to them; if so, they can write “N/A” and adjust their total score.
Background Research: Thinking about prejudice and discrimination often brings to mind acts of blatant prejudice, such as segregated schools or sexual harassment in the workplace. Subtle acts of prejudice and discrimination, in contrast, are less visible and obvious and, as such, are more difficult to recognize in one’s own behaviors or in the actions of one’s social group members (Benokraitis & Feagin, 1995). However, research on modern prejudice shows that all people are prejudiced to some degree, even if they are not aware of it, and so they are likely to engage in acts reflecting this subtle prejudice. For example, research on ambivalent prejudice shows that people can simultaneously hold both negative and positive attitudes toward other social group members (Katz & Hass, 1988), and research on aversive prejudice demonstrates that even people who are strongly motivated to see themselves as unprejudiced may discriminate in situations where they can justify doing so on the basis of some factor unrelated to social group membership (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2004). Becoming aware of the possibility that they might discriminate against others makes many people feel anxious and uncomfortable; as a result, they tend to avoid intergroup interactions as a way to manage these negative emotions (Stephan, Ybarra, & Morrison, 2009). Acknowledging the situations that make people uncomfortable is an important step toward addressing this anxiety and increases people’s willingness to engage in intergroup interactions (Monteith & Mark, 2009).

Benokraitis, N. V., & Feagin, J. R. (1995). Modern sexism: Blatant, subtle, and covert discrimination (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (2004). Aversive racism. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 36, pp. 1-52). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Katz, I., & Hass, R. G. (1988). Racial ambivalence and American value conflict: Correlational and priming studies of dual cognitive structures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 893-905.
Monteith, M. J., & Mark, A. Y. (2009). The self-regulation of prejudice. In T. D. Nelson (Ed.), Handbook of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination (pp. 507-523). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Stephan, W. G., Ybarra, O., & Morrison, K. R. (2009). Intergroup threat theory. In T. D. Nelson (Ed.), Handbook of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination (pp. 43-59). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Comfort in Social Situations Worksheet

Instructions: Read the following statements and rate what you think your comfort level would be in each situation using the scale below. There are no right or wrong answers. Simply be honest with yourself and do not over-think the situations. However, the way you answer the questions may be different depending on your own social group membership, such as your race/ethnicity, gender, age, weight, or ability status. In some cases, you may not think a situation is personally applicable; if so, mark “N/A” in the space provided. After you have completed all sections, follow the instructions to create a total score for each section.






Very Comfortable




Very Uncomfortable

Section A:

_________ Your best friend starts dating a Latino-American.

_________ You go into a Japanese restaurant where all the patrons and employees are Asian.

_________ You realize you are the only person of your race when you visit a community.

_________ A Saudi Arabian sits down next to you on a crowded bus.

_________ Your new doctor went to medical school in India.

Total: _________

Section B:

_________ You find out a family friend is choosing to be a stay-at-home dad.

_________ You greet someone but can’t determine the person’s gender.

_________ You take your car in for repairs and the head mechanic is a woman.

_________ You see a little boy playing with a princess Barbie.

_________ You see a businessman getting a manicure.

Total: _________

Section C:

_________ You see two men holding hands.

_________ A person of the same sex is flirting with you.

_________ You move in next door to a same sex couple who have two children.

_________ You go on a date with someone who used to date someone of the same sex.

_________ You see two females kiss lovingly in public.

Total: _________

Section D:

_________ You don’t know whether to open a door for someone in a wheelchair.

_________ You watch someone who does not have a visible disability park in a handicap spot.

_________ You walk by a mentally disabled person who is talking loudly in the grocery store.

_________ Your friend is dating someone with Aspergers Syndrome (high functioning autism).

_________ You are standing in line behind a deaf person at a fast food restaurant.

Total: _________

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