Inter Group Perception and Experience Exploration in the Lives of Northeasterners NE in India
Over the years, the importance of historically neglected North East (NE) India has gained momentum. Previous studies in Psychology have focused either on identity of NE people, migration, acculturation or prejudice. Research on perception of NE (Indian) people by non-NE people (Indian) and vice-versa has been scanty. The present study attempts to understand perception of Northeast (NE) students of India by non-NE students (primarily North Indian/NI students staying in Delhi) using a sentence completion task. Participants consisted of female college students and research scholars; (N=30, mean age = 20.8 years). The study also takes into account the rising cases of racism against NE people in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results from the empirical study indicate a general and superficial understanding of NE by non-NE participants. Findings are overall positive, showing that educated and aware student community do not explicitly view NE through the lens of stereotype and prejudice. Yet subtle biases were present. On the contrary, a number of news reports point towards the incidences of prejudice and discrimination against NE people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The secondary data analysis clearly indicates the level of dehumanisation and discrimination that NE people are experiencing. Thus the study calls for more attention of researchers to dive deeper into these opposite trends and bring out the subtle forms of misperceptions to bridge the gulf between NE people and non-NE people. Results indicate that perhaps positive changes are happening only at explicit level, and at implicit level people still harbour negative perceptions and attitudes, which manifests during times of crisis. The findings have been explained with the help of Terror Management Theory.
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