Prejudice and Group-Related Behavior in Germany


  • Data collection was funded by a grant of the Volkswagen Stiftung and the Freudenberg Stiftung to Wilhelm Heitmeyer, University of Bielefeld (project “Group-Focused enmity”). The authors are grateful to Bernd Six and Andreas Zick for their comments on a first draft of the article.

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ulrich Wagner, Philipps-University, Department of Psychology, Gutenbergstr. 18, 35032 Marburg, Germany [e-mail:].


This article analyses the relationship of ethnic prejudice and discriminatory behavioral intentions in Germany. We utilize two representative surveys conducted in 2002 and 2004 (N= 2,722 and 1,383, respectively) as well as a longitudinal study with three annual measurement points (2002–2004; N= 825). Results show that prejudice is substantially correlated with the respondents' reports of their own discriminatory intentions (R= .33 to .49). Controlling for additional psychological variables, the cross-lagged, longitudinal analyses support the causal hypothesis that prejudice leads to discriminatory intentions. Additional influences on discriminatory intentions—intergroup threat and intergroup contact—are substantially mediated by ethnic prejudice. Thus, a practical implication of these results is that the reduction of intergroup threat and increment of intergroup contact may well lead to both reduced intergroup prejudice and to less discriminatory behavior.