The Social Roots of Contemporary Prejudice

Authors

  • Ben Heylen Ghent University
  • Lieven J.R. Pauwels Ghent University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.6000/1929-4409.2015.04.03

Keywords:

Prejudice, right wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, evolutionary theory

Abstract

Background: Evolutionary theory suggests prejudice may be a result of the evolution of human sociality. In this study, we investigate this claim by integrating theoretical insights of evolutionary theory with the well-established social psychological research on prejudice centering on Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) as the main predictors of prejudice.

Method: First, we developed two different signaling scales, probing respondents' propensity to signal group commitment in a genuine or deceptive way. We administered a questionnaire consisting of the two signaling measures, RWA, SDO and prejudice measures to 1380 students. Analysis of the data was done using structural equation modeling.

Results: Our results indicate that genuine signaling of one's commitment to the in-group is positively associated with RWA, and that deceptively signaling one's commitment to the in-group is positively associated with SDO. Both RWA and SDO are positively related to prejudice.

Conclusion: Our study is the first to empirically reveal the pro-social roots of prejudice using classical measurement instruments. The findings give rise to a new array of research questions.

Author Biographies

Ben Heylen, Ghent University

Department of Criminology, Criminal Law and Social Law

Lieven J.R. Pauwels, Ghent University

Department of Criminology, Criminal Law and Social Law

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Published

2015-01-26

How to Cite

Heylen, B., & Pauwels, L. J. (2015). The Social Roots of Contemporary Prejudice. International Journal of Criminology and Sociology, 4, 28–35. https://doi.org/10.6000/1929-4409.2015.04.03

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Section

Articles