The Greatest Magic of Harry Potter: Reducing Prejudice

The full article may be viewed here

Summary: The article focuses on a research study done to examine the role reading stories has on out-group attitudes. They conducted three studies to test whether contact with the Harry Potter novels improved relations with stigmatized groups ( homosexuals, immigrants and refugees). Study 1 focused on homosexuals, Study 2 on immigrants and Study 3 on refugees. In all three studies they tested the role of identification with positive and negative main characters. Before each study began each participant was filled out a questionnaire on their feelings of the respective stigmatized group. Then participants read portions of the group together and had a group discussion on what was read. Collectively the studies found that reading books in which you identify with the positive main character leads to reducing prejudice. (Dinma)

  1. It is concluded that the stories in Harry Potter are helpful in lessening prejudice against stigmatized groups. Although the books teach us valuable lessons about acceptance in many ways, had they chosen other sections for the participants to read (such as the teachers neglecting Neville in the name of comedy), would there have been a different conclusion?

  2. Does ‘perspective taking’ allow positive or negative attitude ‘improvement’ of minority groups? (such as muggles and half bloods or mud bloods in the harry potter series) N

  3. Does the pre-reading questionnaire present a bias that allows the final results to be tainted? (i.e., Is the pre-reading questionnaire needed to have the final results?) P

  4. Can we say that the series ‘have the potential to achieve a positive social impact’? In what ways do hermione, Ron and Harry achieve this alone? Would this social impact have been the same if Hermione was full blooded, or Ron was not poor? N

  5. If these books appeal to children more profoundly, what kind of ethical values could they possibly learn? (would children continue to stigmatize or would they realize ‘right’ from ‘wrong’) N

  6. The author of this article states that the ‘positive’ characters (i.e. Ron, Hermione, Harry, etc.) attempt to fight against social inequality. Can this statement about ‘inequality’ be more or less applied to the fight against Voldemort? Or diversification amongst mudbloods and purebloods? Or even the division of students into houses? How does the trio do this? N

  7. Can race be intertwined with ‘pure-bloods’ ‘mud-bloods’ and even muggles? How?

  8. Considering that the whole series is a popular novel in America, how is it that individuals could be so prejudice and judgmental to one another, but at the same time can interact and “compare” themselves to the characters in the book? Throughout the world of Harry Potter, there are so many discriminatory  gestures and prejudicial practices that are handled by Harry and friends in such impractical way which encourages the practice of cultural appropriation, acceptance of diversity, and much more. M

  9. Could it be possible that an orphan in today’s age can learn to feel valued and important by entertaining this series? Most orphans or even single parent families feel as if they have no effect on the world and aren’t important enough to deserve their place in life or to even become successful or empowered. Harry broke that standard statistic after discovering his sacred abilities and coming to Hogwarts, where he became both the most loved and hated individual there. M

  10. When conducting the study, a lot of out groups quickly categorized themselves as understanding the positive perspective of the hero characters rather than the negative ones. If the study was conducted to only test the perspective of Snape, do you believe that  those outgroups would still choose to recognize with the protagonist or antagonist point of view? M

  11. At the beginning of the study, the authors imply that it is important for students to enjoy and be interested in the books they read. Why do you feel that schools typically don’t allow students to read books of their interest?

  12. At the end of the study, they mention another study that proved that children got the same message out of the books without discussion. Do you think that discussion is an important part of realizing the themes of books or that you, and children specifically, don’t need the discussion to fully appreciate the message behind literature they read? R

  13. Youth is a theme we see throughout the books, especially when the main characters are children having to fight against the world. However, as the main characters grow, the focus changes to some of the older characters and it becomes easier for adults to relate to the books. If schools start using the Harry Potter series in their curriculum, in which age group would it be most beneficial to begin this focus and why?