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Implicit Representations of Ethnicity and Nationhood in New Zealand: A Function of Symbolic or Resource-Specific Policy Attitudes?


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Chris G. Sibley, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand [e-mail:].


New Zealanders' implicit projections of the national category differ dramatically from those of Americans and Australians. In these latter nations, research using the Implicit Association Test (IAT) indicates that the majority (White/European) group is privileged in automatic or nonconscious concepts of nationhood relative to other ethnic groups. In New Zealand, however, Whites/Europeans and Maori (the Indigenous peoples) are equally associated with cognitive representations of the nation. This difference has been attributed to the strong and consensual integration of Maori culture and identity with national identity. The present research provided a novel test of this argument by demonstrating, in a large undergraduate sample (N = 142), that self-rated opposition versus support for symbolic but not resource-specific aspects of bicultural social policy was associated with New Zealanders' generalized pro-European versus pro-Maori implicit ethnic-national associations (estimated using two IATs). This finding provides converging evidence suggesting that the unique pattern of ethnic-national associations observed in New Zealand owes its genesis to relatively consensual support for the incorporation of symbolic aspects of Maori culture: The ways in which groups are symbolically represented within a nation affects the extent to which they are automatically projected within the inclusive or national prototype. This in turn has important implications for promoting intergroup tolerance.