Study: Social diversity is initially threatening, but people do adapt over time | 5/24/2019 | Staff
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The ethnic and religious composition of many modern societies has been dramatically changed by global modernization. These demographic changes are having a major impact across many spheres of life, including the workplace, neighborhood environments, schools and nations. More than ever before, our communities are changing in terms of their ethnic and religious composition. Societies and individuals are facing new challenges as they engage with (or sometimes avoid) people from different backgrounds, faiths and beliefs.

These changes have had many positive effects—such as filling important gaps in the labor market and challenging cultural insularity. But they have also fueled growing tensions and division, illustrated by Donald Trump's most recent race controversy. Social diversity is a global issue—and it has contributed to major geopolitical events such as Brexit and the fractious nature of the European refugee crisis.

Academia - Changes - Concern - Implications - Diversity

Academia has reacted to these changes with growing concern about the implications of social diversity. Much has been written about this topic, but one major question remains unanswered: are human beings able to adapt to this unprecedented change in social diversity?

Theory on human evolution and social diversity largely contends that the human brain has evolved a predisposition to protect "our" own groups, as survival was dependent on cooperation with members of that group. Survival, according to this view, depended on protecting the group from the potential dangers posed by unknown others—who were approached with caution. This is perhaps the reason why research has found that trust and social cohesion are lower in diverse communities and why, in experimental labs, individuals interacting with unknown members of a different social group show increased stress and anxiety.

Predispositions - Role - Formation - Groups - Societies

It is generally accepted that these predispositions play a role in the formation of groups and the societal structures we live in. But we believe that they might be incompatible with fast-changing societies, where...
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