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Abstract

Prejudice is more prevalent among members of the working class than among members of the middle or upper class. It is still a matter of discussion whether education works to suppress prejudice among upper class members or, on the contrary, to enhance genuinely tolerant attitudes. We propose that (i) two indicators of social class—income and education—independently predict prejudice toward multiple targets as follows: lower levels of income and education are associated with higher levels of prejudice. (ii) The connection between social class and prejudice is explained by the endorsement of system-legitimating ideological attitudes, namely right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO). We tested these hypotheses in four studies using cross-sectional surveys in Europe (Studies 1 and 2, Ns = 11 330 and 2640) and longitudinal data from Germany and Chile (Studies 3 and 4, Ns = 343 and 388). Results show that education and income exert independent negative effects on prejudice. The effect of education is stronger than the effect of income, which is not stable across countries. The relationships between income and prejudice and education and prejudice are mediated by RWA and SDO. We conclude that people of the working class generally endorse an ideological configuration that is well suited for legitimating the social system. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.