Rediscovering community: Interethnic relationships and community gardening

August John Hoffman, Julie Wallach, Eduardo Sanchez


Community service work, volunteerism and mentoring have recently become popular topics of research as effective methods in improving self-esteem and civic responsibility. In the current study we explored the relationship between participation in a community service gardening program and ethnocentrism. We hypothesised that an inverse correlation would emerge where students who participated in a community service-gardening program would increase their perceptions of the importance of community service work and decrease their scores in ethnocentrism. Results of the paired samples t-test strongly support the hypothesis that community service gardening work significantly reduces reports of ethnocentrism: t(10) = -2.52, (p < .03) for community college students. The ramifications of the study and ramifications for future research are offered.

Full Text



Allen, T 2006, 'Rewarding good citizens: The relationship between citizenship behavior, gender and organizational rewards', Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 36, pp. 120–43.

Bond, R & Smith, P 1996, 'Culture and conformity: A meta-analysis of studies using Asch's (1952b, 1956) line judgment task', Psychological Bulletin, vol. 119, pp. 111–37.

Bond, M & Pyle, J 1998, 'Diversity dilemmas at work', Journal of Management Inquiry, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 252–69.

Buss, D 2004, Evolutionary psychology: The new science of the mind, 2nd edn, Allyn & Bacon, Boston.

Chun, K & Akutsu, P 2003, 'Acculturation among ethnic minority families', in K Chun, P Organista & G Marin (eds), Acculturation, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

Cosmides, L & Tooby, J 1992, 'Cognitive adaptations for social exchange', in J Barkow, L Cosmides & J Tooby (eds), The adapted mind, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 163–228.

Ferber, J 2007, 'Encouraging a culture of interest in others: American and Russian children connect', Community Works Journal, summer issue.

Gaertner, S, Mann, J, Murrell, A & Dovidio, J 1989, 'Reducing intergroup bias: The benefits of recategorization', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 57, pp. 239–49.

Hoffman, A & Wallach, J 2007, 'The effect of service-learning on student connection to the professor, campus and community', The Vermont Community College Journal, summer issue.

Jones, S & Hill, K 2003, 'Understanding patterns of commitment', The Journal of Higher Education, vol. 74, no. 5, pp. 516–39.

Kerr, N & Kaufman-Gilliland, C 1994, 'Communication, commitment, and cooperation in social dilemmas', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 66, pp. 513–29.

Komorita, M & Parks, G 1995, 'Interpersonal relations: Mixed-motive interaction', Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 46, pp. 183–207.

Martin, J & Nakayama, T 2004, Intercultural communication in contexts, 3rd edn, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Paolini, S, Hewstone, M, Cairns, E & Voci, A 2004, 'Effects of direct and indirect cross-group friendships on judgments of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: The mediating role of an anxiety-reduction mechanism', Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 30, pp. 770–86.

Penner, L, Dovidio, J, Piliavin, J & Schroeder, D 2005, 'Prosocial behavior: Multilevel perspectives', Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 46, pp. 365–92.

Pettigrew, T 1997, 'Generalized intergroup contact effects on prejudice', Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 23, pp. 173–85.

Tjosvold, D 1993, Learning to manage conflict: Getting people to work together productively, Lexington Books, New York.

Triandis, H 1990, 'Cross-cultural studies of individualism and collectivism', in J Berman (ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation, 1989, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, pp. 41–133.

Trivers, R 1971, 'The evolution of reciprocal altruism', Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 46, pp. 35–57.