West, T., & Levy, S. R. (2002). Background belief systems and prejudice. In W. J. Lonner, D. L. Dinnel, S. A. Hayes, & D. N. Sattler (Eds.), Online Readings in Psychology and Culture (Unit 15, Chapter 4), Center for Cross-Cultural Research, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington USA.

This material is copyrighted by the author(s), who have kindly extended to the Center the right to use the material as described in the Introduction to this collection and the form entitled "Agreement to Extend License to Use Work."



Tara West and Sheri R. Levy
State University of New York at Stony Brook


Why are some people more prejudiced than others? A growing body of work suggests that people's basic belief systems, which are often captured by everyday sayings (e.g., "The early bird gets the worm;" "Viva la difference"), promote different levels of prejudice. We review the relations between prejudice and six belief systems: Authoritarianism, Social Dominance Orientation, Protestant Work Ethic, Humanitarianism-Egalitarianism, Beliefs about Diversity, and Beliefs about the Malleability of Human Attributes. We also discuss the development, maintenance, and potential change in each belief system. Ways that the study of these belief systems may provide answers for reducing prejudice are discussed.


Background Belief Systems and Prejudice

In every culture, there are popular sayings that people use in their everyday lives. Some examples of popular sayings are "It's never too late to turn over a new leaf"; "The early bird gets the worm," (or, in German, "Der fruehe Vogel faengt den Wurm"); "It's a dog eat dog world"; "El perico donde quiera es verde" (Mexican proverb; A parrot is green wherever it goes); "Treat others as you would like to be treated"; "To each his (or her) own." As will be discussed in this chapter, belief systems represented by these everyday sayings have been related to different levels of prejudice toward a variety of socially stigmatized groups including racial minorities, gay men and lesbians, overweight persons, and women.

These belief systems have been labeled in different ways, for example, as worldviews, ideologies, lay theories, and values. Even so, these belief systems are similar in conceptually important ways. For example, they serve similar functions for people, such as helping people understand their social world. That is, they help people perceive, interpret, and predict events (e.g., predicting whether people will succeed or fail) and select courses of action (e.g., deciding whether to help a victim of misfortune). Moreover, although people's belief systems may be stable over time, and have even been considered personality traits, some belief systems can change through personal experience, as will be discussed.

In this chapter, we review the following belief systems: authoritarianism (e.g., Altemeyer, 1998), social dominance orientation (e.g., Sidanius & Pratto, 1999), Protestant work ethic (e.g., Katz & Hass, 1988), humanitarianism-egalitarianism (e.g., Katz & Hass, 1988), beliefs about diversity (e.g., Neville, Lilly, Lee, Duran, & Browne, 2000; Wolsko, Park, Judd, & Wittenbrink, 2000), and beliefs about the malleability of human attributes (e.g., Levy, Plaks, Hong, Chiu, & Dweck, 2001). We have chosen these belief systems because they have been shown to relate to different levels of prejudice. Examples of other belief systems that are not included in this brief chapter are political ideologies and religious beliefs.

Relations Between Belief Systems and Prejudice

We begin our review of the relations between belief systems and prejudice with the belief system that has the longest history of association with prejudice, authoritarianism. We then discuss other belief systems that have been associated with increased prejudice before turning to those that have been associated with decreased prejudice. For all of the belief systems, we discuss their theoretical background, their origins, and their relations to prejudice.

Authoritarianism (AUTH)

Authoritarianism was connected to prejudice for the first time in 1950 in the classic book called "The Authoritarian Personality." Psychoanalysts, Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswick, Levinson, and Sanford, suggested that some people develop an authoritarian personality because of internal conflicts from a difficult childhood. The modern version of authoritarianism, however, suggests that it is a belief system that is taught in one's social environment. It's a dog eat dog world in the eyes of people holding an authoritarian belief system. Altemeyer (1994) defines AUTH as a belief system consisting of three factors: (a) conventionalism, which involves holding to conventions that are seemingly endorsed by society's established authorities; (b) authoritarian aggression, which involves support for aggression toward people who break society's rules or conventions; and (c) authoritarian submission, which involves submission to society's established authorities. Indeed, White U.S. college students scoring high on authoritarianism are more likely to view offenses and other "deviant" behaviors by non-authority figures as more serious and to view offenses by authority figures (e.g., police officers) as less serious, relative to people low on authoritarianism (Feather, 1996).

Authoritarianism appears to be a belief system that is found universally. Cross-cultural studies have shown that people in numerous cultures agree with AUTH (e.g., Canada, Ghana, Russia, South Africa, U.S.); however, the frequency and meaning of AUTH in different cultures and subcultures appear to vary. For instance, a greater proportion of those high in authoritarianism relative to those low in authoritarianism was found in the U.S. than in Russia (McFarland, Agayev, & Djintcharadze, 1996). This could be due to differences in economic, political, and religious systems between the countries.

Research investigating the origins of authoritarianism has examined authoritarian beliefs within families. Parents and their college-age children in the U.S. and Canada tend to have similar levels of AUTH. This similarity is likely due to environmental factors, specifically, that children learn authoritarian beliefs from their parents (Altemeyer, 1998). At the same time, results from twin studies suggest that authoritarianism may be, in part, passed through people's genes (McCourt, Bouchard, Lykken, Tellegen, & Keyes, 1999).

Relation to prejudice. The impact of authoritarianism on prejudice has included such a wide variety of groups (e.g., racial and ethnic minorities, women, homosexuals, people with AIDS, environmentalists) that people holding authoritarian views have been called "equal opportunity bigots" (e.g., Altemeyer, 1998). However, recent findings suggest some variability in prejudice levels among people holding the authoritarian belief system. White U.S. heterosexuals scoring high on authoritarianism were more willing to admit being, and may actually be, more prejudiced toward homosexuals than toward racial or ethnic groups (Whitley, 1999). This may be related to the religiosity associated with authoritarianism (Altemeyer, 1998), which generally supports prejudice toward homosexuals and discourages prejudice toward other groups.

Agreement with authoritarianism predicts support for hypothetical discriminatory behaviors, such as, in a representative sample of Australians, harsh punishment of criminals (Feather, 1996). Also, the more people agreed with authoritarianism, the more they supported the new South African Black government's violations of the civil liberties of right-wing Whites (Duckitt & Farre, 1994). This is consistent with findings that people holding authoritarian views are even punishing toward right-wing political groups (e.g., Altemeyer, 1998).

Social Dominance Orientation (SDO)

People agreeing with the social dominance orientation would also say that it's a dog eat dog world; however, those holding this belief system would more likely focus on doing the eating than on fearing the other dogs (Altemeyer, 1998). Social dominance orientation refers to the belief in and support for a natural hierarchy among individuals and groups (see Sidanius & Pratto, 1999, for a review). People are high on social dominance orientation to the extent that they are interested in promoting the superiority of their ingroup (own group) over outgroups (other groups), or have a general support for hierarchies among groups.

Social dominance orientation appears to be a universal phenomenon as it has been validated in the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Israel, and China (Pratto et al., 2000). The expression of SDO, however, varies across cultures. In the U.S., people who strongly agree with SDO blame people in low-status positions (such as poverty) for their misfortunes. However, in Taiwanese culture, where traditional religious beliefs suggest that the gods have the power to determine wealth or poverty, people who strongly agree with SDO tend to believe that people's misfortunes are due to forces outside of themselves. Apparently, agreeing with SDO predicts a tendency to justify inequality in the culturally endorsed manner, rather than being consistently tied to beliefs that causes are inside or outside of the person (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). There is also evidence that culture may influence the presence of SDO; in general, those in higher status positions are more likely to strongly agree with SDO than those in lower status positions (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999).

Cross-culturally, males are consistently higher on SDO than females, likely reflecting status and power differences between males and females across cultures (e.g., Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Sidanius and Pratto (1999) have suggested that being socially dominant has been useful for males for many generations, as it helps them to seek power, resources, and status to secure a mate and provide for their offspring. This would suggest that SDO is genetically transmitted, as the males who had higher levels of SDO were more likely to reproduce, thus passing on this characteristic. Family environment may also play a role in the development of SDO, as college students report modeling their social dominance attitudes after their parents (and there is an association between college students' and their fathers' SDO scores; Altemeyer, 1998). However, a genetic explanation for the relation between family members cannot be ruled out.

Relation to prejudice. SDO is associated with negative attitudes toward policies that promote equality across gender, social class, ethnic or racial groups, and sexual orientation, and toward the groups that would benefit from such policies in the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Mexico, China, New Zealand, and Israel (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). In North America, agreeing with SDO is more predictive of sexism, racism, and ethnocentrism (seeing one's own culture as superior) than is agreeing with authoritarianism. AUTH only appears to predict prejudice against homosexuals more strongly than SDO (Altemeyer, 1998). Why does SDO relate to negative feelings toward outgroups? Whitley (1999) suggests that people who strongly agree with SDO preserve their power, status, and resources by keeping other groups at a disadvantage. That is, people who strongly agree with SDO use stereotypes to justify the oppression of outgroups, and those stereotypes lead to negative feelings about those outgroups.

Protestant Work Ethic (PWE)

The Protestant work ethic (PWE) is an individualistic belief system, which goes along with the saying, the early bird gets the worm. PWE stresses successful outcomes for anyone who works hard (Katz & Hass, 1988). This, however, apparently leads to the tendency to believe that failure is due to personal factors such as lack of effort and weakness of character (see Quinn & Crocker, 1999). The notion that the PWE is a U.S. core value (Katz & Hass, 1988) suggests its cultural influence. Consistent with that view, the relative presence of this belief system has been shown to vary across cultures (Furnham, et al., 1993). Furnham and colleagues (1993) examined PWE beliefs among university students in thirteen nations (e.g., India, Germany, U.S., Zimbabwe) and concluded that, in general, wealthy countries were less likely to endorse PWE beliefs than countries that were not wealthy. This is consistent with the traditional notion that PWE beliefs predict the rise of capitalism. That is, citizens in a nation where the PWE is widespread are likely to work hard and thus increase the wealth of their nation. Thus, PWE beliefs are useful to a nation that is not yet wealthy.

Relation to prejudice. Following directly from beliefs that stigmatized others are responsible for their lesser outcomes, people (e.g., White college students) who agree with PWE, in the U.S., tend to dislike overweight persons (Quinn & Crocker, 1999) and to be prejudiced toward racial minorities (Katz & Hass, 1988). A belief in PWE has been positively associated with behavioral measures of prejudice, including, in Australia, opposition to public assistance programs and, instead, support for "tough-minded" solutions to the problem of unemployment, such as restricting immigration and reducing unemployment benefits (Heaven, 1990).

Humanitarianism-Egalitarianism (H-E)

Like the Protestant work ethic, humanitarianism-egalitarianism has been referred to as an aspect of a U.S. core value, in this case, communalism (Katz & Hass, 1998). Egalitarianism has additionally been described as a value central to other cultures, such as the Norwegian culture. H-E is a belief in and support for equality, social justice, and concern for others (see Katz & Hass, 1988), and would go along with the saying, treat others as you would like to be treated.

Relation to prejudice. The humanitarianism-egalitarian belief system relates to "pro-Black" attitudes in U.S. White college students. These attitudes included external attributions, that is, the belief that causes are located outside of the individual, for Blacks' negative outcomes (e.g., racial discrimination) and a belief that society, rather than the individual, should change to improve those outcomes (Katz & Hass, 1988). The H-E belief system also appears to be negatively related to stereotyping. People who were holding egalitarian goals relevant to African Americans (that is, they were motivated to increase equality for African Americans) tended to think about these egalitarian goals, instead of stereotypes, when shown a picture of an unfamiliar African American (Moskowitz, Salomon, & Taylor, 2000). People who did not hold egalitarian goals, on the other hand, thought of stereotypes when shown pictures of African Americans. Behavioral demonstrations of reduced prejudice are also apparent as those who strongly held humanitarianism-egalitarian beliefs were more likely to support a shelter for the homeless in a mostly White community than those with low levels of humanitarianism-egalitarian beliefs (Somerman, 1993).

Beliefs about Diversity

The multicultural and colorblind perspectives are opposing approaches to address the racial and ethnic diversity in various settings such as schools and organizations. Multiculturalism refers to a recognition and celebration of differences among groups (or, in France, "Viva la difference!") while acknowledging the obstacles that minority racial and ethnic groups have faced historically. The color-blind approach has been defined in two ways. First, as a belief system to reduce prejudice, the color-blind perspective focuses on similarities among people, while ignoring or minimizing group differences (Wolsko et al., 2000). Second, as a belief system to maintain prejudice, the color-blind perspective has also been defined as the unawareness of (or denial of) racial privilege and discrimination (Neville et al., 2000). In the U.S., a potential function of this belief system is to allow the holder to believe that the U.S. is fair and that racism is not present. This denial serves to justify inaction, thus helping to maintain the current power structure and to maintain the privileges of the dominant group, Whites (see Neville et al., 2000).

Relation to prejudice. A U.S. sample of mostly White college students and community members who indicated a lack of awareness of racial privilege also reported negative attitudes toward racial diversity, Blacks, and women's equality (Neville et al., 2000). On the other hand, when White college students read a message either about appreciating similarities among people and ignoring differences (Wolsko and colleagues' version of the colorblind perspective) or about appreciating diversity (multicultural perspective), both messages (relative to reading no message) led to more positive feelings toward Blacks. However, differences were found regarding perceived value similarity and stereotyping. The students who read a message about appreciating diversity, relative to those who read a message about ignoring diversity, reported higher levels of stereotyping of Blacks and Whites and perceived less similarity between the values of White and Black Americans. That is, even though people who read the multicultural message seemed to like Blacks as much as those who read the colorblind message did, they perceived Blacks as being dissimilar to Whites.

Beliefs about the Malleability of Human Attributes

Beliefs about the malleability of human attributes refer to theories people hold about the degree to which human qualities (e.g., morality, personality, intelligence) can change. People holding entity theories (attributes are fixed entities) tend to see people's qualities as stable characteristics, and would agree with the saying, Aunque la mona se vista de seda mona queda (Argentinian proverb; A monkey is a monkey even if it is dressed in silk). By contrast, people holding incremental theories (attributes can increase or change) view people's qualities as dynamic and likely believe that it's never too late to turn over a new leaf. Entity and incremental theories have been found across age groups (elementary school, middle school, and college) and cultures (U.S., Hong Kong, and France; Levy et al., 2001).

Relation to prejudice. College students in the U.S. holding incremental theories, relative to those holding entity theories, have been shown to less strongly agree with stereotypes of ethnic and occupational groups. They have also been shown to less readily form extreme trait judgments of novel (unfamiliar) groups (small sample of behavior of college students at an unnamed university) and to perceive members of a novel group to be less similar to each other, suggesting that they see people as individuals and not merely as members of a group (for a review, see Levy et al., 2001). Likewise, Hong, Chiu, Yeung, and Tong (1999) showed that Hong Kong college students with an incremental, opposed to entity, view were less likely to exaggerate trait differences between their group (Hong Kongers) and an outgroup (Mainland Chinese). Similar results were obtained with ethnically diverse samples of children in the U.S. Children holding the incremental theory, more so than children holding the entity theory, expected greater overlap between two novel groups (e.g., in terms of likes and dislikes, goals) even though they had learned that the two groups differed in other ways. Further suggesting that children holding an incremental theory form more flexible judgments of others than children holding an entity theory, they were also more interested in befriending children from the school in which some children misbehaved (for a review, see Levy et al., 2001).

Interrelations among Belief Systems

To better understand the influence of these belief systems on prejudice, we need to understand the interrelation among the set of belief systems. SDO, AUTH, and PWE are all positively correlated with one another; that is, a person scoring high on one belief system (e.g., SDO) would likely score high on another belief system (e.g., PWE; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Additionally, the color-blind belief system seems to be related to PWE, in that they both deny racial discrimination and suggest that numerical-minority groups are responsible for adjusting to the dominant society. Egalitarianism and SDO appear to be negatively correlated (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). That is, people who generally agree with egalitarianism tend to generally disagree with SDO.

Belief systems may be related to each other because one "causes" another, or because they are both by-products of another belief system or construct. It is also possible that one belief system functions for another by legitimizing social practices supported by the latter. For example, people agreeing with SDO may be against welfare because it helps lower-status groups gain resources; thus, they agree with PWE as an argument against welfare (e.g., working hard is all that is needed to get ahead; see Sidanius and Pratto, 1999). These are important issues for future research.

Development, Maintenance, and Change of Belief Systems

Belief systems may develop and change in a variety of ways. On a broad level, cultural factors may produce and maintain belief systems, which may explain differences in the prevalence of belief systems across and within cultures as reviewed in the previous section. Large-scale sociopolitical changes within a culture may account for changes in people's belief systems. For example, in a study conducted over six months during the 1997 political transfer of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China, Hong and colleagues (1999) found that Hong Kong college students' theories moved toward the entity (people cannot change) view of moral character. Hong and colleagues (1999) suggested that students' incremental view shifted toward the entity view because, as the handover approached, the mass media (e.g., news programs) tended to talk about the different characteristics of Hongkongers and Chinese, suggesting that they possessed stable traits. Smaller scale social policies and programs also encourage belief systems. For example, in Britain, the Disability Discrimination Act encourages the egalitarian belief system. In the U.S., Affirmative Action (a policy that ensures that numerical minority racial groups are represented in various occupations) supports multiculturalism, and Alcoholics Anonymous (a program that helps alcoholics overcome their addictive behaviors) supports the incremental theory by emphasizing that people can change. The U.S. criminal system suggests that people can change by allowing for release upon rehabilitation, but at the same time, suggests that they cannot change by allowing capital punishment. Additionally, mass media influences such as films, books, and songs support different belief systems (e.g., the song, "One Love," by Bob Marley and the Wailers promotes egalitarianism; the movie, "Billy Elliot" by British Director, Stephen Daldry, supports the incremental theory as the main character's father changes and is shaped by environmental forces).

Techniques for altering belief systems have been tested in different settings (e.g., educational, laboratory), in different countries (U.S., Canada), and among different age groups (e.g., elementary school students, university students). The techniques have not been tested across all belief systems; therefore, it is difficult to draw conclusions about each technique's effectiveness. A popular technique is to have people listen to or read a persuasive message. These messages seem to be most effective when they require elaboration, that is, when people are asked to write summaries and arguments of their own in support of the message. People's emotional states also may influence their agreement with a given message, as a state of self-dissatisfaction appears to motivate individuals to alter belief system-relevant attitudes (e.g., Altemeyer, 1994). That is, when people become aware of the negative implications of their belief systems (e.g., it might suggest that they are unfair), they may feel dissatisfied with themselves and may then be motivated to alter their beliefs. However, attempts to influence belief systems can lead to mixed (prejudice-increasing and prejudice-reducing) results. For example, as discussed, Wolsko and colleagues (2000) demonstrated that a message promoting multiculturalism seemed to encourage White participants to like Blacks, but also to stereotype them.

Belief systems also can be taught in indirect ways, for example, through commonplace, daily practices that occur at home and in schools. Kamins and Dweck (1999) demonstrated the effects of achievement feedback on children's beliefs about the malleability of attributes. The study was set up so that kindergarteners, role-playing with dolls, would fail on a task. When the experimenter blamed the failure on the child's traits or the child as a whole ("I'm very disappointed in you"), children developed an entity (fixed) view of attributes (goodness or badness). However, when the experimenter blamed the child's failure on the child's strategies ("maybe you could think of another way to do it"), children developed an incremental (malleable) view of attributes. Receiving feedback about the self as a person appeared to lead the child to focus on stable traits when understanding and explaining behavior, whereas feedback on the strategies focused children's attention on factors that were more likely to vary across situations. The trait feedback likely leads children to make assumptions about traits from a few behaviors. This is similar to stereotyping, where people base beliefs about a group of people on a small sample of behaviors. In summary, belief systems develop and change through relatively passive and active interactions with the environment, and through direct and indirect routes.

Two key directions for future work are investigating how belief systems develop and, also, how they can be changed. Cross-cultural differences in how easily belief systems come to mind and in the behaviors and attitudes associated with these belief systems suggest that certain belief systems may be more useful in some cultures than others. Indeed, some belief systems may better serve the needs of the political or economic system in certain cultures. In particular, belief systems that are wide spread in a given society probably help people with the power and resources to more easily influence social policies and programs. The extent to which individuals agree with and use these belief systems may depend on the person's race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, and education. Future research would benefit from a more thorough examination of the ways that these factors (e.g., religion, education) interact with the cultures to affect whether or not a given belief system is likely to be present. For example, in some cultures, people who are highly educated might be more likely to hold a certain belief system, whereas in other cultures, people who are highly educated might be less likely to hold that belief system. Future research would benefit from an examination of a diverse group of people (e.g., in terms of age, race, social status, education) within and across cultures.

A limitation of cross-cultural work is the presence of inconsistencies in the measurement of belief systems. These inconsistencies were often due to the unplanned nature of the comparisons, with data collected at different times and for different purposes, and then compared afterwards. Now that the initial work has been done and cross-cultural differences are apparent, future work would benefit from a more planned comparison of cultures at the same time and with identical measures (or as close as possible when translations are necessary). An additional direction would be to conduct manipulation studies (where attempts are made to influence people's belief systems) in many more cultures. With evidence suggesting that the occurrences and correlates of belief systems vary cross-culturally, it would be informative to examine the ways that the belief systems develop and change cross-culturally. It may be that certain techniques for changing belief systems are more influential in some cultures than in others and that belief systems change in different ways across cultures.

Additionally, the relative influence of genetic versus environmental factors on belief systems needs to be investigated in future work. Despite the evidence for cultural influences on the development of belief systems, another line of work suggests that belief systems could be biologically determined. For instance, neither AUTH nor SDO seem to be easily changed. Heredity is a potential explanation for their resistance to change. As discussed previously, it has been suggested that SDO may lead one to secure the resources that would help one acquire a mate, thus increasing the chance that the person will have children to carry the genes. This is consistent with findings that cross-cultural gender differences in SDO are more extreme than could be explained environmentally (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). The fact that, in general, males have more power than females would be one explanation for males' higher degree of SDO. However, the actual difference in SDO levels between males and females is greater than would be expected based on their differences in power and status. The hereditary nature of AUTH has also been investigated. As discussed, McCourt et al. (1999) found that both genetic and environmental factors appeared to influence levels of AUTH.

In summary, studying the ways that belief systems seem to develop and change is essential in understanding the nature of the belief systems and also helps to suggest strategies for changing belief systems in order to reduce prejudice.


In this chapter, we reviewed several belief systems that are particularly relevant to the study of prejudice, as they influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to social groups. These belief systems have broader implications as they provide a framework for understanding and predicting others' behaviors, for guiding opinions related to socially relevant issues, and for suggesting appropriate ways of behaving toward other individuals and groups. Whether referred to as lay theories, belief systems, or worldviews, the findings thus far suggest that the study of such belief systems can help us understand why some people are more prejudiced than others. More research is needed to understand how these and other everyday belief systems develop and change across cultures.

About the Authors

Tara West is a doctoral student in Social Psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She earned her BA in Psychology from Indiana University and her MA in Psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2000. Her research interests include lay theories' and ideologies' functions and relations to prejudice. West may be contacted at twest@ic.sunysb.edu.

Sheri R. Levy is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University in 1998, for which she received the 1999 Society for the Psychology Study of Social Issues Dissertation Award. Her research examines how the different background beliefs (lay theories and ideologies) adults and children hold influence prejudice. Assuming that these background beliefs are dynamic, Levy explores how they develop with age and personal experience. In 1999, with Dr. Frances Aboud, Levy co-edited a Journal of Social Issues issue on "Reducing Racial Prejudice, Discrimination, and Stereotyping: Translating Research into Programs." In 2001, Levy co-edited a special issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review on "Lay Theories and the Perception of Groups" with Dr. Ying-yi Hong of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Dr. Chi-yue Chiu of the University of Hong Kong. Levy's current research interests include lay theories and ideologies, intergroup volunteerism, and prejudice reduction. Levy may be contacted at sheri.levy@sunysb.edu.


* References highly recommended for further reading on this topic

Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswick, E., Levinson, D. J., Sanford, R. N. (1950). The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper.

Altemeyer, B. (1994). Reducing prejudice in right-wing authoritarians. In M. P. Zanna and J. M. Olson (Eds.), The psychology of prejudice: The Ontario symposium (vol. 7, pp 131-148). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

*Altemeyer, B. (1998). The other "authoritarian personality." Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 47-92.

Duckitt, J., & Farre, B. (1994). Right-wing authoritarianism and political intolerance among Whites in the future majority-rule South Africa. Journal of Social Psychology, 134, 735-741.

Feather, N. T. (1996). Reactions to penalties for an offense in relation to authoritarianism, values, perceived responsibility, perceived seriousness, and deservingness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 571-587.

Furnham, A., Bond, M., Heaven, P., Hilton, D., Lobel, T., Masters, J., Payne, M., Rajamanikam, R., Stacey, B., & Van Daalen, H. (1993). A comparison of Protestant work ethic beliefs in thirteen nations. The Journal of Social Psychology, 133, 185-197.

Heaven, P. C. (1990). Human values and suggestions for reducing unemployment. British Journal of Social Psychology, 29, 257-264.

Hong, Y.Y., Chiu, C.Y., Yeung, G., & Tong, Y.Y. (1999). Social comparison during the political transition: Interaction of entity versus incremental beliefs and social identities. Journal of Intercultural Relations, 23, 257-279.

Kamins, M. L., & Dweck, C. S. (1999). Person versus process praise and criticism: Implications for contingent self-worth and coping. Developmental Psychology, 35, 835-847.

*Katz, I., & Hass, R. G. (1988). Racial ambivalence and American value conflict: Correlational and priming studies of dual cognitive structures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 893-905.

*Levy, S. R., Plaks, J. E., Hong, Y. Y., Chiu, C. Y., & Dweck, C. S. (2001). Static versus dynamic theories and the perception of groups: Different routes to different destinations. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5, 156-168.

McCourt, K., Bouchard, T. J., Lykken, D. T., Tellegen, A., & Keyes, M. (1999). Authoritarianism revisited: Genetic and environmental influences examined in twins reared apart and together. Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 985-1014.

McFarland, S. G., Ageyev, V. S., Djintcharadze, N. (1996). Russian authoritarianism two years after communism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 210-217.

Moskowitz, G. B., Salomon, A. R., & Taylor, C. M. (2000). Preconsciously controlling stereotyping: Implicitly activated egalitarian goals prevent the activation of stereotypes. Social Cognition, 18, 151-177.

Neville, H. A., Lilly, R. L., Lee, R. M., Duran, G., & Browne, L. (2000). Construction and initial validation of the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS). Journal of Counseling Psychology, 47, 59-70.

Pratto, F., Liu, J.H., Levin, S., Sidanius, J., Shih, M., Bachrach, H., & Hegarty, P. (2000). Social dominance orientation and the legitimization of inequality across cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 31, 369-409.

Quinn, D. M., & Crocker, J. (1999). When ideology hurts: Effects of belief in the Protestant ethic and feeling overweight on the psychological well-being of women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 402-414.

*Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (1999). Social dominance: An intergroup theory of social hierarchy and oppression. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Somerman, F. B. (1993). Value, attitude, and belief determinants of willingness to accept a facility for the homeless. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 2, 177-192.

Whitley, B. E., Jr. (1999). Right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 126-134.

*Wolsko, C., Park, B., Judd, C. M. & Wittenbrink, B. (2000). Framing interethnic ideology: Effects of multicultural and color-blind perspectives on judgments of groups and individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 635-654.

Questions for Discussion

1. Why would we find cross-cultural similarities and differences in the extent to which people agree with these belief systems?
2. What strategies for altering people's belief systems seem most versus least effective?
3. Why would it be difficult to alter people's belief systems?
4. In what ways might belief systems be related to one another?
5. What is the evidence that these belief systems may be, in part, genetically caused?
6. What is the evidence that these belief systems may be, in part, environmentally caused?
7. What groups of people likely benefit from the belief systems that are most wide-spread in that society?
8. In what ways do Beliefs about Diversity (Multicultural and Colorblind perspectives) relate to increased and decreased prejudice?
9. In what ways do the entity and incremental theories (Beliefs about the Malleability of Human Attributes) relate to prejudice?
10. Why might males generally agree more strongly with SDO than females?

Related Webpages

This website discusses prejudice toward people with homosexual and bisexual orientations, and explains how this prejudice exists at the individual and societal level.

This website by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
contains a list of readings and videos on stereotyping, prejudice, and intergroup relations.

This website by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues contains classroom activities relating to prejudice and discrimination.

These websites are dedicated to fighting hate and promoting tolerance. They are part of Teaching Tolerance, an educational program sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The website tracks prejudice in the news, supplies tools for fighting prejudice, and offers classroom resources for elementary school through college students.
1. http://www.tolerance.org
2. http://www.splcenter.org/teachingtolerance/tt-index.html

This website discusses prejudice as a problem of society, rather than merely a problem of individual personalities. The passage describes ways that people in power use techniques such as scapegoating (blaming a particular group for the problems of others) to avoid fixing the complex and difficult problems of society.

Go to top of page | Home | Brief Table of Contents | Complete Table of Contents