We assessed lay perceptions of the causes of and solutions to ethnic prejudice, and determined whether individual differences related to intergroup relations (social dominance orientation, right-wing authoritarianism) and to cognitive style (personal need for structure, need for cognition) were predictive of these perceptions. Results revealed clear and coherent lay beliefs about the causes of and solutions to ethnic prejudice, and significant relations between perceived causes and solutions. Systematic relations between the intergroup-relevant individual differences and these perceptions also emerged, in ways that may serve to justify and legitimize ethnic bias. Implications for the justification and maintenance of ethnic bias and for intervention programmes are discussed. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.