Prejudiced People Perceive More Community Support for Their Views: The Role of Own, Media, and Peer Attitudes in Perceived Consensus

Authors

  • Susan E. Watt,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Behavioural, Cognitive, and Social Sciences
      University of New England
      Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
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    • 1

      The authors thank Anne Pedersen and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.

  • Chris Larkin

    1. School of Behavioural, Cognitive, and Social Sciences
      University of New England
      Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
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Sue Watt, School of Behavioural, Cognitive, and Social Sciences, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia. E-mail: sue.watt@une.edu.au

Abstract

People often overestimate others' support for their views (false consensus effect). Recent research has shown that this is particularly marked in the relation between perceived consensus and prejudice. The current research asked whether this partly arises in an in-group stereotype of the community as prejudiced. We investigated relations between different sources of normative information (self, media, peers), estimates of community attitudes, and perceived consensus in a sample of 135 community members. Media prejudice predicted community attitudes, and this further predicted consensus. However, strongest was a direct relation between own prejudice and perceived consensus. The results indicate a desire to appear nonprejudiced, relative to others. Confronting prejudiced people with information about community norms is a promising intervention under these circumstances.

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