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'Genius Grant' Winner Used A Soap Opera To Prove A Point About Prejudice

Betsy Levy Paluck is a newly minted MacArthur fellow. Her research in Rwanda looked at how people become more tolerant.
Betsy Levy Paluck is a psychology professor at Princeton University. She ran a year-long experiment in Rwanda to see whether radio soap operas could be used to reduce prejudice. Source: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

What will it take for the people of this world to drop their prejudices, to move past intolerance — and just get along?

That's a question Princeton psychologist Betsy Levy Paluck — one of the 24 MacArthur Fellows announced on Wednesday — has dedicated her career to answering.

Back in 2002, when Paluck was a graduate student at Yale University, her adviser asked: "What does psychology say about how to reduce prejudice and conflict?" She and her adviser were teaching a class about hate speech and political intolerance, and he wanted to give students examples of ways to counteract those things.

Paluck searched and

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