People adapt to societal diversity

By B. Rose Kelly

Initially threatened by change, people adapt to societal diversity over time, according to researchers at Princeton University and the University of Oxford. Their findings were published May 6, 2019, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team examined 22 years of psychological, sociological and demographic data from more than 338,000 respondents in 100+ countries. Although over two-year periods diversity acted to reduce social trust, over a 12-year period, diversity led to greater intergroup contact that increased social trust and offset the negative short-term influence. “If you give people who are different from you half a chance, they will integrate into society pretty well,” said Douglas Massey, the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. The study was supported by a Marie Curie Fellowship, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Nuffield Foundation.