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Four key reasons people are prejudiced

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Why are people prejudiced? Four key reasons for prejudice.

Why are people prejudiced?

Why are people prejudiced against other people?

Why do racism and sexism occur?

Why are some people lacking in acceptance of people with disability or the elderly?

We studied what makes people prejudiced

SACS and Deakin University partnered in a study late last year on why people are intolerant.

The results are in an article on prejudice lead authored by Dr Jeromy Anglim in one of the world’s leading psychology journals.

We measured the levels of tolerance and intolerance of a large sample of Australian workers. We also measured psychological characteristics such as their intelligence, personality and values.

We wanted to know whether a person’s levels of intolerance could be predicted by their psychological makeup.

Four key reasons for people’s prejudices

Research suggests that there are four key reasons that people are prejudiced toward others:

1. Seeking dominance

They seek to be dominant over others – they see life as a competition, and belittling others helps them to think that they are winning (Sibley and Duckitt, 2008).

2. Feeling threatened

Their ego is threatened. People who are concerned about their own adequacy or worth in comparison with others you may be inclined to take an insulting perspective on them. That way they can feel better about themselves (Fein & Spencer, 1997).

3. Conservative values

They are born conservatives. People who think that society should stick to old fashioned rules may tend to look down on groups who they think may threaten these rules (Sibley & Duckitt, 2008).

4. Struggling with complex ideas

They can’t cope with complex ideas. Understanding and tolerating the perspectives of people who are different from us requires some IQ points. There is evidence that people who don’t cope well with nuanced ideas may be more comfortable with writing off an entire social group (Roets & van Hiel, 2011).

The connections between people’s personalities and their prejudice

In this article we tested each of these ideas and the findings are fascinating.

We discovered that a person’s psychological makeup can determine how likely they are to be intolerant and we found support for the “pathways to prejudice” outlined above.

Jeromy Anglim and myself presented the findings in a two hour workshop on June 12th. Register to attend the workshop or view the accompanying webinar.

Using these findings will help you to minimise prejudice and optimise the levels of tolerance in your work force.

Fein, S., & Spencer, S. J. (1997). Prejudice as self-image maintenance: Affirming the self through derogating others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(1), 31.

Roets, A., & van Hiel, A. (2011). Allport’s prejudiced personality today: Need for closure as the motivated cognitive basis of prejudice. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(6), 349-354.

Sibley, C. G., & Duckitt, J. (2008). Personality and prejudice: a meta-analysis and theoretical review. Personality And Social Psychology Review: An Official Journal Of The Society For Personality And Social Psychology, Inc, 12(3), 248-279.

Discover the SACS Personality Assessment

Personality strongly influences the chances of success for your employees.

These four personality traits are essential in all roles:

  1. Highly conscientious – hardworking and committed
  2. Emotionally stable – tends not to get upset easily
  3. Easy to get along with – not an angry person
  4. Truthful and honest – not an arrogant person

All of these characteristics accurately predict both good and bad performance at work.

See how the SACS personality assessment can optimise your hiring process and your existing workforce.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Andrew Marty

Managing Director at SACS Consulting

Andrew is a qualified psychologist who has over 25 years of human resource management consulting experience, including extensive senior executive search and selection experience.

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