The Suppression and Justification of Prejudice as a Function of Political Orientation

Authors

  • Russell J. Webster,

    Corresponding author
    1. Psychology Department, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
    • Corresponcence to: Russell John Webster, Gustavus Adolphus College, Beck 245, St Peter, MN 56082, USA.

      E-mail: rwebster@gustavus.edu.

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  • Mason D. Burns,

    1. Psychology Department, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
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    • Mason Burns is now at Purdue University. Margot Pickering graduated from the University of Kansas Law School.

  • Margot Pickering,

    1. Psychology Department, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
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    • Mason Burns is now at Purdue University. Margot Pickering graduated from the University of Kansas Law School.

  • Donald A. Saucier

    1. Psychology Department, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
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Abstract

Politically conservative (versus liberal) individuals generally report more prejudice towards various low-status out-groups. Three studies examined whether prejudice suppression factors—specifically, internal and external motivation to suppress (IMS and EMS, respectively) prejudice—can help explain the relationship between political orientation and prejudice. Study 1 showed that IMS and EMS partially mediated the relationship between political orientation and affective prejudice towards Arabs. Study 2 demonstrated that when justification [right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation] and suppression (IMS and EMS) factors are simultaneously tested as mediators, only RWA partially mediated the relationship between political orientation and prejudice towards deviant (e.g. gay men) out-groups, whereas RWA and IMS fully mediated the relationship between political orientation and prejudice towards derogated out-groups (e.g. Blacks). Intriguingly, IMS rendered social dominance orientation effects non-significant for derogated out-groups. Study 3 showed that anticipating an out-group interaction (with a Black or lesbian confederate) diminished the mediational contribution of IMS in the political orientation–prejudice relationship because of increased IMS among participants; yet the increases in IMS did not completely eliminate differences in prejudice as a function of political orientation. Ultimately, these three studies demonstrate that suppression (in addition to justification) factors do help explain the relationship between political orientation and prejudice. Copyright © 2013 European Association of Personality Psychology.

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