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Protestant work ethic's relation to intergroup and policy attitudes: A meta-analytic review

Authors


Lisa Rosenthal, Department of Psychology Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA 11794-2500.

E-mail: lirosenthal@notes.cc.sunysb.edu;

Sheri R. Levy, Department of Psychology Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA 11794-2500,

E-mail: sheri.levy@stonybrook.edu

Abstract

The Protestant work ethic (PWE), the belief that hard work leads to success, is prevalent in many cultures and has been related to negative attitudes toward disadvantaged groups (prejudice) and social policies targeting them. Given recent theorizing and findings suggesting that PWE is not necessarily associated with prejudice among all people or in all contexts, this meta-analysis examined the direction and strength of PWE's relation to prejudice (37 eligible studies) and policy attitudes (16 studies) among published and unpublished studies across 38 years. Results revealed not only significant positive relationships between PWE and both types of intergroup attitudes but also significant moderators of these relationships. There were significantly larger effect sizes for PWE's relationship with both prejudice and policy attitudes among samples in Western countries (Canada, England, New Zealand, USA), and marginally significantly larger effect sizes for PWE's relationship with both types of attitudes the older the mean age of the sample (within Western countries). PWE's relationship with intergroup attitudes also varied by the target group of the attitudes. Findings support a more nuanced view of PWE's relationship with intergroup attitudes, suggesting that PWE does not always promote greater prejudice; rather its consequences are culture and context bound. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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