The Colorblind, Multicultural, and Polycultural Ideological Approaches to Improving Intergroup Attitudes and Relations


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lisa Rosenthal, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500 [email:], or to Sheri Levy [email:].


Scholars have long explored the colorblind and multicultural ideological approaches to improving intergroup attitudes and relations. Polyculturalism, a newly studied ideological approach, focuses on the past and current interactions and connections among different racial and ethnic groups. Drawing on cross-disciplinary work, we critically examine the various forms that each of these ideological approaches has taken across studies, and their implications for intergroup attitudes and relations among racially and ethnically diverse children, adolescents, and adults. Although each ideological approach has been examined in several ways (often combining different forms of each approach), there is sufficient comparative work to draw some conclusions. We propose that a combined ideological approach be implemented in educational settings that maximizes the strengths and positive intergroup consequences of colorblindness, multiculturalism, and polyculturalism, while minimizes the weaknesses and negative intergroup consequences of each approach.