PSYC12 t THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PREJUDICE: TEXTBOOK NOTES
Chapter 4: The Prejudiced Personality: Are Some People More Likely To Feed Prejudice?
¾ Up until the Nazis in Germany from 1933 to 1945, psychologists had explained prejudice as a psychodynamic process of unconscious
¾ One of the first attempts to examine the prejudiced personality was put forth by Adorno and his colleagues (1950), with their description
¾ According to Adorno et al., some people have personality structures that are flawed in such a way that they are conditioned to be
especially likely to adopt prejudiced attitudes.
¾ Adorno and his colleagues interviewed and tested hundreds of individuals and found that for a subset of these personstthe
authoritarianstcertain patterns of prejudice, childhood upbringing, and relationships with parents tended to be quite common.
¾ Specially, authoritarians tended to grow up in homes in which the parents or guardians were strict disciplinarians, often using harsh
discipline to keep the children from misbehaving and to punish them when they disobeyed the parent or guardian.
¾ Authoritarians were more likely to be submissive to authority, to adhere strictly to middle-class traditions and values, and to think very
¾ Adorno et al., also found that authoritarians, more than other individuals, tended to hold prejudices against not just one group but many
¾ Authoritarians hated deviant impulses (e.g. aggression, sex) and were also more likely to externalize these unacceptable impulses to
others via protection.
¾ In sum, ZµZ}]]v[(}(vvvÇ}vZvU}µoÁ]ZZ]Zvµ]]}v}(Zuv}Z
impetus to displace or channel these unacceptable parent-related impulses and their own impulses into hostility toward minority groups.
¾ Authoritarian personality characteristics can also be found in some minority group members.
tendency to evidence prejudice, it is unclear whether the correlation is a result of the child developing the authoritarian personality
characteristics and hence a greater intolerance of minority groups, or if it is ]uoÇµo}(ZZ]o]vvo]Ì]vPZv[Àoµ
and ethnic attitudes.
contributor in developing prejudiced attitudes.
¾ Allport discussed the prejudice personality in psychodynamic terms.
¾ He o]ÀZZiµ]}vo]ÇuP}µ}(^]o_P}X Specifically, this individual feels threatened, insecure, and
fearful of virtually everything.
¾ In trying to overcome these insecurities, the person develops a prejudiced view of others as a way of projecting their fears and self-
doubts onto others.
¾ In addition to projection, Allport suggested that people with a prejudiced personality tend to repress their fears and insecurities so that
they can avoid facing their anxieties and shortcomings.
¾ This repressions leads to the development of many of the same characteristics possessed by the authoritarian individual: ambivalence
towards parents, moralism, a need for definiteness, and dichotomization.
Problems with the Psychodynamic Approach
¾ There were four main reasons for the decline of empirical interest in the theory.
¾ First, researchers became more and more critical of psychoanalytic approaches to personality.
¾ In another line of inquiry, Martin and Westie (1959) suggested that prejudice may be a result of an intolerant personality. These
individuals tended to be suspicious of politicians, intolerant of ambiguity.
¾ Second, methodological and other conceptual problems with the notion of the authoritarian personality caused many researchers to
conclude that the approach was unsatisfactory under scientific standards.
¾ The primary measures of authoritarianism, the F-scale (fascism), the A-S scale (for anti-Semitism), and the E-scale (ethnocentrism) were
worded in such a way that it was unclear whether high scores indicated agreement with the authoritarian beliefs (an example item from
PSYC12 t THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PREJUDICE: TEXTBOOK NOTES
¾ Third, the theory only explained the presence of prejudice in a small subset of the population and did not explain why many people who
did not have an authoritarian personality did show prejudice toward at least one other group.
¾ Similarly it could not account for the fact that prejudice was stronger in some regions.
¾ By the 1960s research on authoritarianism was so contradictory and confusing and confusing that researchers abandoned work on the
¾ Altemeyer sought not just to show that he knew the essentials of authoritarianism but that he really wanted to master the research
literature on authoritarianism.
¾ In his research on the authoritarian personality, Altemeyer found that the Adorno et al. (1950) definition of a prefacist personality (i.e.
the authoritarian) was quite vague.
¾ He did however find that three of these traits seemed to show a strong relationship with each other. These traits, which Altemeyer
¾ Authoritarian submission indicates a strong degree of submission to p]ÀoP]]uµZ}]]]v}v[}]ÇX
¾ Authoritarian aggression suggests a general aggression and hostility directed toward outgroups, that is viewed as acceptable by
¾ Finally, conventionalism is defined as a strong adherence to social norms and traditions that are perceived as sanctioned by recognized
¾ Altemeyer termed this constellation of attitudes right-wing authoritarianism (RWA), to denote its differen(}u}v}oX[
politically, which to restrict personal freedoms.
¾ They are also very prejudiced toward their outgroups.
¾ Scores on the RWA scale correlate highly with measures of ethnocentrism and hostility toward homosexuals.
¾ *Box 4.1 t 1997 Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale* - p. 92-93
¾ Much research has shown that people who are high RWAs tend to be prejudiced toward virtually everyone. Altemeyer (1994) quipped
¾ Altemeyer (1994) speculates that most children form rather authoritarian attitudes, but for most kids, these attitudes and beliefs are
modified with experience, and they tend to be low on RWA by their late teens or early twenties.
¾ High-RWAs, however, may not get these experiences, and because they tend to have circles of like-minded high-RWA friends, they do not
appreciate the extent of their prejudice RWA attitudes.
¾ RWAs might respond to information that indicates they are violating their cherished ideals.
¾ Faced with this information, they might be willing to change their beliefs, in order to feel more attitudinally consistent and to reduce
cognitive dissonance that would surely arise with such a realization.
¾ Cunningham and his colleagues found that people who are high in explicit prejudice are also high in implicit prejudice, and that people
who demonstrate a rigid, right-wing ideology tend to be prejudiced toward many disadvantaged groups that have little in common.
¾ dZ]µ}}v}[Z}]Ì]vPZµZ}]]v]u]v]À]µov}µo-opportunity bigots, so to speak, and are prejudiced
toward essentially any outgroup.
¾ Research suggests that there is a positive correlation between being more religious and having less tolerance and more stereotyped
cognition about others.
¾ Much social-cognition research suggests that anything that works to inhibit the considered processing of information about other
individuals increases the likelihood that one will rely on heuristics (e.g. stereotypes) when evaluating others. This early research
suggested that there was a strong link between prejudice and intolerance and the type of thinking fostering with greater religiosity.
Committed versus Consensual Religiosity
¾ Specifically, they argue that much of this early research tended to rely on measures of religiosity that are too simplistic, such as church
attendance, membership, or denominational preference.
¾ These indexes tell us nothing about the crucial (}Zµvo]Z]µo}vv]}vÁvv]v]À]µo[}]o]µv
Up until the nazis in germany from 1933 to 1945, psychologists had explained prejudice as a psychodynamic process of unconscious defence mechanisms. One of the first attempts to examine the prejudiced personality was put forth by adorno and his colleagues (1950), with their description. According to adorno et al. , some people have personality structures that are flawed in such a way that they are conditioned to be especially likely to adopt prejudiced attitudes. Adorno and his colleagues interviewed and tested hundreds of individuals and found that for a subset of these personsjthe authoritariansjcertain patterns of prejudice, childhood upbringing, and relationships with parents tended to be quite common. Specially, authoritarians tended to grow up in homes in which the parents or guardians were strict disciplinarians, often using harsh discipline to keep the children from misbehaving and to punish them when they disobeyed the parent or guardian.