Society for the Teaching of Psychology: Division 2 of the American Psychological Association

Dealing With Resistance

This bibliography contains references and Web sites with information that can help educators address students’ resistance to learning about diverse people, places, cultures, lifestyles, and ideas.


Kiselica, M. S. (Ed.). (1998). Confronting prejudice and racism during multicultural training. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

The authors discuss types of reactions frequently seen in multicultural training and provide strategies for increasing students’ ability to benefit from training.

Mio, J. S., & Awakuni, G. I. (2000). Resistance to multiculturalism: Issues and interventions. London: Brunner/Mazel.

An examination of the resistance to multiculturalism in psychology and society, advocating multiculturalism as one of the best traditions of scholarship. Details accounts, experiences, and challenges of resistance from the perspectives of both teaching and administration in psychology.

Mio, J. S., & Iwamasa, G. Y. (Eds.). (2003). Culturally diverse mental health: The challenges of research and resistance. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

This volume (particularly Chapters 1–6) addresses the challenge of counseling diverse populations including multiracial, homosexual, geriatric, and disabled individuals. It compiles the latest research on diverse populations and addresses the issue of resistance to the need to modify old practices when working with these populations.

Thomas, K. M. (2008). Diversity resistance in organizations. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Resistance to diversity is a significant  issue in organizational settings. This book attempts to identify the complex interaction of psychological and organization factors that are thought to cause resistance to diversity.

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

Brown, E. L. (2004). What precipitates change in cultural diversity awareness during a multicultural course: The message or the method? Journal of Teacher Education, 55, 325–340.

Research on the impact of instructional methods on the cultural diversity awareness of 100 teacher education students taking a cultural diversity course.

Cockrell, K. S., Placier, P., & Cockrell, D. H. (1999). Coming to terms with “diversity” and “multiculturalism” in teacher education: Learning about our students, changing our practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 15, 351–366.

A study about negative student responses to a multicultural foundations course. The findings suggest relationships between previous cross-cultural experiences, gender, and beliefs.

Faiman-Silva, S. (2002). Students and a "culture of resistance" in Provincetown's schools. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 33, 189–212.

Provincetown, Massachusetts is a multi-gendered community where openness to diversity is part of the ethos. This article explores how students have developed a "culture of resistance" to dominant discourses of tolerance and acceptance. Student-resistance conduct is shown to be a response to perceived alienation from mainstream social norms and discourses.

Espino, M. M., & Lee, J. J. (2011). Understanding resistance: Reflections on race and privilege through service-learning. Equity & Excellence in Education, 44(2), 136-152. doi:10.1080/10665684.2011.558424

This article explores the role of students’ resistance to issues of oppression as it impacts the process and outcome of service-learning courses.  

Fairbrother, A. (1998). Check out the real America: Many hued, many tongued, and many storied. English Journal, 88, 57–61.

The writer discusses how she introduced multicultural literature in her classroom in order to reflect the diversity of her students at a Californian high school. She developed and taught an elective in Mexican American literature and also offered a variety of Chicano texts along with literature from other cultures.

Gay, G., & Howard, T. C. (2000). Multicultural teacher education for the 21st century. The Teacher Educator, 36, 1–16.

This article explains several reasons why multicultural preservice teacher education is important and suggests some ways it can be better accomplished.

Helms, J. E., Malone, L. S., & Henze, K. (Eds.). (2003). First annual diversity challenge: How to survive teaching courses on race and culture. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 31, 3-38.

Focuses on preparing educators to cope with resistances encountered when teaching about race and ethnic culture. Covers using reaction papers and journal writing to assess resistance in multicultural courses; a racial–cultural counseling laboratory course that provides cognitive, behavioral, and affective approaches to racial-cultural competence training; and the role of social structures and social factors in race pedagogy.

Jackson, L. C. (1999). Ethnocultural resistance to multicultural training: Students and faculty. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 5, 27–36.

Discusses reactions of persons from minority as well as majority groups.

Karp, H. B., & Sammour, H. Y. (2000). Workforce diversity: Choices in diversity training programs and dealing with resistance to diversity. College Student Journal, 34, 451–458.

Explains steps for developing more effective diversity training programs that reflect the values of an organization and the people in it.

Kleinman, S., Copp, M., & Sandstrom, K. (2006). Making sexism visible: Birdcages, martians, and pregnant men. Teaching Sociology, 34, 126-142.

This paper describes several strategies for pre-empting and/or responding to students’ resistance to learning about the oppression of women.  These include:  introducing Marilyn Frye's (1983) metaphor of oppression as a birdcage consisting of systematically related wires, “making the familiar strange, substituting race for sex, distinguishing between intentions and consequences, imagining men in women's bodies, exposing students' claims of equal gender oppression as false parallels, and analyzing some of women's desires as instances of false power. “

Kubal, T., Stone, R. T., & Meyler, D. (2003). Teaching diversity and learning outcomes: Bringing lived experience into the classroom. Teaching Sociology, 31, 441–455.

This study examined the learning outcomes of a program that provides artists as guest speakers.

McFalls, E. L., & Cobb-Roberts, D. (2001). Reducing resistance to diversity through cognitive dissonance instruction: Implications for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 52, 164–172.

This study examined how student teachers' resistance to diversity issues can be reduced through cognitive dissonance instruction. The results suggest that including cognitive dissonance theory in instruction on diversity produces an awareness of dissonance and can potentially reduce resistance to diversity issues.

Mio, J. S. (1989). Experiential involvement as an adjunct to teaching cultural sensitivity. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 17, 38–46.

The author reported on a class project in which students chose to write a paper based on either library research about an ethnic minority group or one summarizing at least five cultural experiences in ethnic minority communities. Independent raters judged the papers on experiential involvement as having contributed more enriching experiences for the students.

Mio, J. S., & Morris, D. R. (1990). Cross-cultural issues in psychology training programs: An invitation for discussion. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 21, 434–441.

Based on theory about majority culture identity, the authors present reasons for resistance against including cross-cultural training in clinical psychology programs. They provide sample course content as a model for instructors interested in developing multicultural courses or adding this content to existing courses.

Mio, J. S., & Barker-Hackett, L. (2003). Reaction papers and journal writing as techniques for assessing resistance in multicultural courses. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 31, 12–19.

The authors discuss use of reaction papers and journal writing to address student resistance in multicultural courses.

Pohan, C. A., & Mathison, C. (1999). Dismantling defensiveness and resistance to diversity and social justice issues in teacher preparation. Action in Teacher Education, 20(1), 15–22.

Part of a special section on pluralism for equity and excellence. Investigates the nature and strength of belief systems, the processes involved in shifting beliefs, and variables that help develop a supportive community among learners. Presents strategies to help end defensiveness and nurture the processes of examining beliefs and changing.

Rodriguez, A. J. (1998). Strategies for counterresistance: Toward sociotransformative constructivism and learning to teach science for diversity and for understanding. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35, 589–622.

This article reports on two types of resistance by preservice science teachers: resistance toideological change and resistanceto pedagogical change. Specific pedagogical strategies for counterresistance were found effective in helping preservice teachers learn to teach for diversity and understanding.

Tran, V., Garcia-Prieto, P., & Schneider, S. C. (2011). The role of social identity, appraisal, and emotion in determining responses to diversity management. Human Relations, 64(2), 161-176. doi:10.1177/0018726710377930

This article presents a model with which to understand employee resistance to the implementation of diversity management policies and practices.  The model is based on Intergroup Emotions Theory and  explains  “how and why specific social identities triggered by diversity management influence employees appraisals of diversity management, in turn eliciting specific emotions and specific behavioral responses.”

Yeo, F. L. (1999). The barriers of diversity: Multicultural education and rural schools. Multicultural Education, 7, 2–7.

Covers assumptions about multicultural education, how conceptualizations of culture affect its implementation, problems in rural schools and communities that require an infusion of multicultural education and those that will cause resistance, and the problem of place. Presents seven propositions for the introduction of multicultural education into rural schools.

Young, G., & Davis-Russell, E. (2002). The vicissitudes of cultural competence: Dealing with difficult classroom dialogue. In E. Davis-Russell (Ed.), The California School of Professional Psychology: Handbook of multicultural education, research, intervention, and training (pp. 37–53). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Comprehensive volume addressing culturally responsive education, culturally infused clinical training, culturally competent faculty, qualitative research in multicultural studies, working with culture in psychotherapy, racial-identity attitudes, conceptualizing wellness in multicultural populations, and many other key topics in creating educational, social service, and mental health systems reflecting society.

Internet Resources

Understanding Prejudice

A Web site for students, teachers, and others interested in the causes and consequences of prejudice. Includes more than 2,000 links to prejudice-related resources, as well as searchable databases with hundreds of prejudice researchers and social justice organizations. Although this Web site is intended to supplement a McGraw-Hill anthology with the same title, all pages and activities are freely available and can be used with other texts or on their own. This page contains links to teaching ideas, materials, and resources, including more than 35 college-level classroom activities and student assignments. For interactive web-based exercises and demonstrations, click on the "Exercises and Demonstrations" button to the left. If you are an instructor whose students took the Baseline Survey or Slide Tour, you can access your class data through the Instructor Area. Additional information and links for instructors are also available in the Reading Room, Multimedia Center, and Links on Prejudice pages:

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