Hodson, G., Turner, R., & Dhont, K. (2020). Teaching and learning guide for: The role of individual differences in understanding and enhancing intergroup contact. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. doi:10.1111/spc3.12551
Intergroup contact, the direct or extended (or virtual/imagined) interaction with members of other groups, has enjoyed a long history in social psychology. Allport (1954) introduced the “Contact Hypothesis”, which has since evolved into a full and complex “Contact Theory” (Brown & Hewstone, 2005; see also Hodson & Hewstone, 2013; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2001; Turner, Hewstone, Voci, Vonofakou, & Christ, 2007). Across different types of groups, different types of contact, and different methodologies, researchers find that having more encounters with specific outgroup
members tends to reduce prejudice toward that group as a whole (see meta-analyses by Davies, Tropp, Aron, Pettigrew, & Wright, 2014; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006; Lemmer & Wagner, 2015). Importantly, contact works more reliably at reducing prejudice relative to other interventions (e.g., Beelmann & Heinemann, 2014). Yet researchers historically felt that individual differences in prejudice-proneness (e.g., authoritarianism) were either irrelevant to, or were obstacles to, contact-based prejudice reduction (see Hodson, Costello, & MacInnis, 2013). More recently, interest in individual differences in contact settings has grown steadily. This article serves as an education tool to not only teach students about intergroup contact and personality (among other individual differences), but to encourage them to consider the possibilities for learning and prejudice reduction when these two topics are conceptually integrated.
Salmen, A., & Dhont, K. (2020). Hostile and Benevolent Sexism: The Differential Roles of Human Supremacy Beliefs, Women’s Connection to Nature, and the Dehumanization of Women. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. doi:10.1177/1368430220920713
Scholars have long argued that sexism is partly rooted in dominance motives over animals and nature, with women being perceived as more animal-like and more closely connected to nature than men. Yet systematic research investigating these associations is currently lacking. Five studies (total N=2,409) consistently show that stronger beliefs in human supremacy over animals and nature were related to heightened hostile and benevolent sexism. Furthermore, perceiving women as more closely connected to nature than men was particularly associated with higher benevolent sexism, whereas subtle dehumanization of women was uniquely associated with higher hostile sexism. Blatant dehumanization predicted both types of sexism. Studies 3 and 4 highlight the roles of social dominance orientation and benevolent beliefs about nature underpinning these associations, while Study 5 demonstrates the implications for individuals’ acceptance of rape myths and policies restricting pregnant women’s freedom. Taken together, our findings reveal the psychological connections between gender relations and human-animal relations.
Turner, R., Hodson, G., & Dhont, K. (2020). The role of individual differences in understanding and enhancing intergroup contact. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. doi:10.1111/spc3.12533
In a world characterized by divisive rhetoric, heightened xenophobia, and other forms of prejudice, it is increasingly important to find effective ways of promoting functional intergroup relations. Research on the relationship between intergroup contact and individual differences substantially contributes to achieving this goal. We review research considering the role played by individual differences in moderating the relationship between contact and prejudice and predicting contact, but also as an outcome of contact. We then outline potential directions for future research, including identifying underlying mechanisms, examining the role of context at an intergroup and societal level, and considering how positive – negative contact asymmetry may be influenced by individual differences. We then call for a broader range of individual difference and contact outcomes to be explored and encourage utilization of new methodological advances in the study of intergroup contact.
Dhont, K., Hodson, G., Loughnan, S., & Amiot, C. (2019). Rethinking Human-Animal Relations: The Critical Role of Social Psychology. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 22, 769-784. doi:10.1177/1368430219864455
People deeply value their social bonds with companion animals, yet routinely devalue other animals, considering them mere commodities to satisfy human interests and desires. Despite the inherently social and intergroup nature of these complexities, social psychology is long overdue in integrating human-animal relations in its theoretical frameworks. The present body of work brings together social psychological research advancing our understanding of: 1) the factors shaping our perceptions and thinking about animals as social groups, 2) the complexities involved in valuing (caring) and devaluing (exploiting) animals, and 3) the implications and importance of human-animal relations for human intergroup relations. In this article, we survey the diversity of research paradigms and theoretical frameworks developed within the intergroup relations literature that are relevant, perchance critical, to the study of human-animal relations. Furthermore, we highlight how understanding and rethinking human-animal relations will eventually lead to a more comprehensive understanding of many human intergroup phenomena.
Van Assche, J., Roets, A., Van Hiel, A., & Dhont, K. (2019). Diverse Reactions to Ethnic Diversity: The Role of Individual Differences in Authoritarianism. Current Directions in Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/0963721419857769
Issues related to ethnic-cultural diversity often make the news headlines in popular media and have attracted extensive attention in the political arena as well as in academic research in psychology, political sciences, and sociology. Political scientist Robert Putnam reported that increased diversity is associated with a range of negative outcomes, including less trust, a decreased sense of community, more prejudice, and more cynicism and mistrust towards politics and politicians. Yet, given that follow-up studies often revealed mixed results, a novel approach to understand the effects of diversity is needed. We address the impact of diversity from a person x context interaction perspective, demonstrating that diversity aggravates the negative attitudes that already exist among certain individuals. Specifically, we review the accumulated evidence showing that particularly those high in authoritarian attitudes are sensitive to diversity, and prone to react with increased negativity to outgroups, politicians, the political system, and democracy.
Earle, M., Hodson, G., Dhont, K., & MacInnis, C. (2019). Eating with our eyes (closed): Effects of visually associating animals with meat on anti-vegan/vegetarian attitudes and meat consumption willingness. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 22. doi:10.1177/1368430219861848
Negative attitudes toward vegetarians/vegans (i.e., veg*ns) are common, particularly among those who desire/like/consume meat more. In two studies, we replicated and extended past work, showing that visual reminders of meat’s animal origins (vs. images of meat alone) decreased meat consumption willingness via increased empathy for animals, distress about meat consumption, and disgust for meat. We also assessed how animal-meat reminders influence antiveg*n attitudes. In Study 1 (N = 299) experimental animal-meat reminders (vs. meat alone images) indirectly reduced negative attitudes toward veg*ns via increased empathy and distress (together, but not independently). The same manipulation in Study 2 (N = 280) lowered antiveg*n attitudes through greater empathy and lowered veg*n threat through greater distress. Implications for promoting less anti-veg*n attitudes are discussed.
Meleady, R., Crisp, R., Dhont, K., Hopthrow, T., & Turner, R. (2019). Intergroup Contact, Social Dominance and Environmental Concern: A Test of the Cognitive-Liberalization Hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi:10.1037/pspi0000196
Intergroup contact is among the most effective ways to improve intergroup attitudes. While it is now beyond any doubt that contact can reduce prejudice, in this paper we provide evidence that its benefits can extend beyond intergroup relations – a process referred to as cognitive liberalization (Hodson, Crisp, Meleady & Earle, 2018). We focus specifically on the impact of intergroup contact on environmentally-relevant attitudes and behavior. Recent studies suggest that support for an inequality-based ideology (Social Dominance Orientation) can predict both intergroup attitudes and broader environmental conduct. Individuals higher in SDO are more willing to exploit the environment in unsustainable ways because doing so aids the production and maintenance of hierarchical social structures. In four studies conducted with British adults we show that by promoting less hierarchical and more egalitarian viewpoints (reduced SDO), intergroup contact encourages more environmentally responsible attitudes and behavior. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal data support this model. Effects are more strongly explained by reductions in an anti-egalitarian motive (SDO-E) than a dominance motive (SDO-D). We discuss how these findings help define an expanded vision for intergroup contact theory that moves beyond traditional conflict-related outcomes.
Van Assche, J., Dhont, K., & Pettigrew, T. (2019). The Social-Psychological Bases of Far-Right Support in Europe and the United States. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology. doi:10.1002/casp.2407
The roles of authoritarianism, social dominance orientation (SDO), and prejudice in the prediction of far-right support were examined in Europe and the United States (U.S.). A meta-analysis shows remarkably similar, positive and strong associations of far-right support with these three variables in previous studies conducted in Europe, the United Kingdom (U.K.), and the United States. Results from two cross-sectional studies in the U.S. further indicated that higher levels of authoritarianism and SDO related to higher voting intentions and support for Trump, via increased prejudice. In a three-wave longitudinal study in the U.K., authoritarianism and SDO predicted pro-Brexit attitudes and support for the United Kingdom Independence Party, again via prejudice. These results shed a new light on the widely-held beliefs in “American and British exceptionalism”, as Trump and Brexit adherents share the same social-psychological underpinnings as far-right supporters observed in several European countries.
Van Assche, J., Van Hiel, A., Dhont, K., & Roets, A. (2019). Broadening the individual differences lens on party support and voting behavior: Cynicism and prejudice as relevant attitudes referring to modern-day political alignments. European Journal of Social Psychology, 49, 190-199. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2377
Social-cultural and economic-hierarchical ideological attitudes have long been used to explain variation in political partisanship. We propose two additional, stable attitudes (political cynicism and ethnic prejudice) that may help explaining contemporary political alignments. In a Belgian (N = 509) and Dutch sample (N = 628), we showed that party support can be segmented into four broad families: left, libertarian, traditionalist, and far-right parties. Both studies revealed that social-cultural and economic-hierarchical right-wing attitudes were negatively related to left party support and positively to libertarian, traditionalist and far-right support. Importantly, additional variance was consistently explained by political cynicism (lower libertarian and traditionalist support), ethnic prejudice (lower left support), or both (higher far-right support). Study 2 additionally demonstrated these patterns for self-reported voting.
Leite, A., Dhont, K., & Hodson, G. (2019). Longitudinal Effects of Human Supremacy Beliefs and Vegetarianism Threat on Moral Exclusion (vs. Inclusion) of Animals. European Journal of Social Psychology, 49, 179-189. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2497
Stronger beliefs in human supremacy over animals, and stronger perceived threat posed by
vegetarianism to traditional practices, are associated with stronger speciesism and more meat
consumption (Dhont & Hodson, 2014). Both variables might also be implicated in the moral
exclusion of animals. We tested this potential in a 16-month longitudinal study in the USA (N
= 219). Human supremacy showed longitudinal effects on the moral exclusion of all animals.
Vegetarianism threat only predicted moral exclusion of food animals (e.g., cows and pigs),
and, unexpectedly, appealing wild animals (e.g., chimps and dolphins). These findings
demonstrate the importance of both human supremacy and perceived threat in explaining
moral exclusion of animals and highlight potential paradoxical negative consequences of the
rise of vegetarianism.
Kteily, N., Hodson, G., Dhont, K., & Ho, A. (2019). Predisposed to Prejudice but Responsive to Intergroup Contact? Testing the Unique Benefits of Intergroup Contact Across Different Types of Individual Differences. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 22, 3-25. doi:10.1177/1368430217716750
Recent research demonstrates that intergroup contact effectively reduces prejudice even among prejudice-prone persons. But some assert that evidence regarding the benefits of contact among prejudice-prone individuals is “mixed”, particularly for those higher in social dominance orientation (SDO), one of the field’s most important individual differences. Problematically, person-variables are typically considered in isolation despite being inter-correlated, leaving the question of which unique psychological aspects of prejudice-proneness (e.g., authoritarianism, antiegalitarianism, cognitive style) are responsive to intergroup contact unresolved. To address this shortcoming, in a large sample of White Americans (N = 465) we simultaneously examined the contact-attitude association at varying levels of ideological (SDO, right-wing authoritarianism), cognitive-style (need for closure), and identity-based (group identification) indicators of prejudice-proneness. Examining a broad range of intergroup criterion measures (e.g., racism, support for racial profiling) we reveal that greater contact quality is associated with lower levels of intergroup hostility for those both lower and higher on a variety of indicators of prejudice-proneness, simultaneously considered.
Peitz, L., Dhont, K., & Seyd, B. (2018). The Psychology of Supranationalism: Its Ideological Correlates and Implications for EU Attitudes and post-Brexit Preferences. Political Psychology, 39, 1305-1322. doi:10.1111/pops.12542
Existing research highlights the roles of group identities and concerns about mass migration in explaining attitudes towards the European Union (EU). However, studies have been largely silent on whether EU attitudes are also shaped by people’s attitudes towards the principles and practices of supranational governance. This research provides a first test of the nature and role of supranational attitudes. We introduce a new measure of supranationalism and, in two studies using samples drawn from the British population, test the psychometric properties of the supranationalism scale. We then identify the socio-ideological correlates (right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation) of supranationalism, along with its effects in predicting EU attitudes and post-Brexit preferences. Our core finding is that supranationalism predicts attitudes towards the EU over and above established factors such as national identity and immigrant threat. Our study thus shows the existence of supranational attitudes among individuals, and the relevance of such attitudes to people’s opinions about international organisations like the EU.
Makwana, A., Dhont, K., De keersmaecker, J., Akhlagi-Ghaffarokh, P., Masure, M., & Roets, A. (2018). The motivated cognitive basis of transphobia: The role of right-wing ideologies and gender role beliefs. Sex Roles, 79, 206-217. doi:10.1007/s11199-017-0860-x
Transgender individuals challenge the traditional assumption that an individual’s gender identity is permanently determined by their assigned sex at birth. Perceiving ambiguity surrounding indeterminate gender identities associated with transgender individuals may be especially disturbing for those who generally dislike ambiguity and have preference for order and predictability, that is, for people scoring higher on Need for Closure (NFC). We tested the associations between NFC and transphobia in two studies using community samples from the United Kingdom (n = 231) and Belgium (n = 175), and we examined whether right-wing ideological attitudes and traditional gender role beliefs mediated these relationships. Confirming our expectations, we found that NFC was significantly associated with transphobia through both stronger adherence to social conventions and obedience to authorities (i.e., right-wing authoritarianism) and stronger endorsements of traditional gender roles in the UK and Belgium, as well as through stronger preferences for hierarchy and social inequality (i.e., social dominance orientation) in the UK. Our results suggest that transgender individuals are more likely to be targets of prejudice by those higher in NFC at least partly due to the strong preference for preserving societal traditions and the resistance to a perceived disruption of traditional gender norms. Hence, attempts to reduce transphobia might be especially challenging among those high in NFC. Nevertheless, prejudice-reducing interventions could incorporate techniques that satisfy epistemic needs for predictability, certainty, and simple structure which may have higher chances of success among high NFC individuals.
Van Assche, J., Asbrock, F., Dhont, K., & Roets, A. (2018). The Diversity Challenge for High and Low Authoritarians: Multilevel and Longitudinal Effects through Intergroup Contact and Threat. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44, 1163-1179. doi:10.1177/0146167218764653
The current studies integrate different frameworks on the positive and negative consequences of ethnic diversity for intergroup relations. Using a nationally stratified sample of Dutch majority members (N = 680) from 50 cities in the Netherlands, Study 1 demonstrated that objective diversity was indirectly related to prejudice and to generalized, ingroup, and outgroup trust, through more positive and more negative contact. These indirect effects tended to be stronger for high versus low authoritarians. Furthermore, perceived diversity was indirectly related to less trust and greater prejudice, via more negative contact and threat. Again, these associations were more pronounced among high authoritarians. Study 2, using a representative sample of German majority members (N = 412) nested within 237 districts, replicated the cross-sectional results regarding objective diversity and prejudice. In addition, longitudinal analyses indicated that objective diversity predicted more positive and more negative contact 2 years later, though only among moderate and high authoritarians.
Van Assche, J., Dhont, K., Van Hiel, A., & Roets, A. (2018). Ethnic diversity and support for populist parties: The “right” road through political cynicism and lack of trust. Social Psychology, 49, 182-189. doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000340
Putnam’s (2007) constrict claim states that ethnic diversity has serious consequences for social cohesion, making people distrustful and leery. The present contribution extends this claim by including political cynicism and trust as side effects of diversity. Moreover, we nuance this claim by considering citizens’ social-ideological attitudes as moderators of diversity effects. Using a Dutch nationally stratified sample (N = 628), we showed that both objective and perceived diversity were associated with more political cynicism and less trust, but only for those high in right-wing attitudes (i.e., social dominance orientation and particularly authoritarianism). Furthermore, only political cynicism was a unique predictor of greater populist party support. Implications for the ongoing debates on the rise in diversity and populist parties are discussed.
Reimer, N., Becker, J., Benz, A., Christ, O., Dhont, K., Klocke, U., Neji, S., Rychlowska, M., Schmid, K., & Hewstone, M. (2017). Intergroup contact and social change: Implications of negative and positive contact for collective action in advantaged and disadvantaged groups. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 121-136. doi:10.1177/0146167216676478
Previous research has shown that (1) positive intergroup contact with an advantaged group can discourage collective action among disadvantaged-group members and (2) positive intergroup contact can encourage advantaged-group members to take action on behalf of disadvantaged outgroups. Two studies investigated the effects of negative as well as positive intergroup contact. Study 1 (N = 482) found that negative but not positive contact with heterosexual people was associated with sexual-minority students’ engagement in collective action (via group identification and perceived discrimination). Among heterosexual students, positive and negative contact were associated with, respectively, more and less LGB activism. Study 2 (N = 1,469) found that only negative contact (via perceived discrimination) predicted LGBT students’ collective action intentions longitudinally while only positive contact predicted heterosexual/cisgender students’ LGBT activism. Implications for the relationship between intergroup contact, collective action, and social change are discussed.
De keersmaecker, J., Roets, A., Dhont, K., Van Assche, J., Onraet, E., & Van Hiel, A. (2017). Need for closure and perceived threat as bases of right-wing authoritarianism: A longitudinal moderation approach. Social Cognition, 35, 433-449. doi:10.1521/soco.2017.35.4.433
Epistemic motives and threat have been considered important bases of right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) for a long time. Yet, the interplay between these variables has hardly been investigated. The present study therefore examined how the interaction between dispositional need for closure (NFC) and perceived external threat, in addition to their main effects, shapes individuals’ endorsement of RWA. In a representative sample collected in the Netherlands (N = 588), the results revealed cross-sectional as well as longitudinal interaction effects. In particular, higher levels of NFC were related to higher levels of RWA when individuals perceived relatively low levels of external threat. However, when the levels of perceived threat were relatively high, NFC was not significantly related to RWA. We discuss the importance of taking into account perceived contextual factors in theorizing on the motivated social cognitive basis of authoritarian ideology.
Cichocka, A., Dhont, K., & Makwana, A. (2017). On Self-love and Outgroup Hate: Opposite Effects of Narcissism on Prejudice via Social Dominance Orientation and Right-Wing Authoritarianism. European Journal of Personality, 31, 366-384. doi:10.1002/per.2114
Previous research has obtained mixed findings as to whether feelings of self-worth are positively or negatively related to right-wing ideological beliefs and prejudice. We propose to clarify the link between self-worth and ideology by distinguishing between narcissistic and non-narcissistic self-evaluations as well as between different dimensions of ideological attitudes. Four studies, conducted in three different socio-political contexts: the UK (Study 1, N = 422), the US (Studies 2 and 3, Ns = 471 and 289) and Poland (Study 4, N = 775), investigated the associations between narcissistic and non-narcissistic self-evaluations, social dominance orientation (SDO), right-wing authoritarianism (RWA), and ethnic prejudice. Confirming our hypotheses, the results consistently showed that after controlling for self-esteem, narcissistic self-evaluation was positively associated with SDO (accounting for RWA), yet negatively associated with RWA (accounting for SDO). These associations were similar after controlling for psychopathy and Machiavellianism (Study 3) as well as collective narcissism and Big Five personality characteristics (Study 4). Studies 2-4 additionally demonstrated that narcissistic self-evaluation was indirectly positively associated with prejudice through higher SDO (free of RWA) but indirectly negatively associated with prejudice through lower RWA (free of SDO). Implications for understanding the role of self-evaluation in right-wing ideological attitudes and prejudice are discussed.
Garcia-Sancho, E., Dhont, K., Salguero, J., & Fernandez-Berrocal, P. (2017). The personality basis of aggression: The mediating role of anger and the moderating role of emotional intelligence. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 58, 333-340. doi:10.1111/sjop.12367
High neuroticism and low agreeableness have been found to predict higher levels of aggression through an increase of negative emotions such as anger. However, previous research has only investigated these indirect associations for physical aggression, whereas evidence for such indirect effects on other types of aggression (i.e., verbal or indirect aggression) is currently lacking. Moreover, no previous work has investigated the moderating role of Ability Emotional Intelligence (AEI), which may buffer against the effects of anger on aggression. The present study (N = 665) directly addresses these gaps in the literature. The results demonstrate that high neuroticism and low agreeableness were indirectly related to higher levels of physical, verbal, and indirect aggression via increased chronic accessibility to anger. Importantly however, the associations with physical aggression were significantly weaker for those higher (vs. lower) on AEI, confirming the buffering role of AEI. We discuss the implications of our findings for theoretical frameworks aiming to understand and reduce aggression and violent behavior.
Dhont, K., Hodson, G., & Leite, A. (2016). Common Ideological Roots of Speciesism and Generalized Ethnic Prejudice: The Social Dominance Human–Animal Relations Model (SD-HARM). European Journal of Personality, 30, 507-522. doi:10.1002/per.2069
Recent research and theorizing suggest that desires for group-based dominance underpin biases towards both human outgroups and (non-human) animals. A systematic study of the common ideological roots of human–human and human–animal biases is, however, lacking. Three studies (in Belgium, UK, and USA) tested the Social Dominance Human–Animal Relations Model (SD-HARM) proposing that Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) is a key factor responsible for the significant positive association between ethnic outgroup attitudes and speciesist attitudes towards animals, even after accounting for other ideological variables (that possibly confound previous findings). Confirming our hypotheses, the results consistently demonstrated that SDO, more than right-wing authoritarianism (RWA), is a key factor connecting ethnic prejudice and speciesist attitudes. Furthermore, Studies 2 and 3 showed that both SDO and RWA are significantly related to perceived threat posed by vegetarianism (i.e. ideologies and diets minimizing harm to animals), but with SDO playing a focal role in explaining the positive association between threat perceptions and ethnic prejudice. Study 3 replicated this pattern, additionally including political conservatism in the model, itself a significant correlate of speciesism. Finally, a meta-analytic integration across studies provided robust support for SD-HARM and offers important insights into the psychological parallels between human intergroup and human–animal relations.
Van Assche, J., Roets, A., Dhont, K., & Van Hiel, A. (2016). The association between actual and perceived ethnic diversity: The moderating role of authoritarianism and implications for outgroup threat, anxiety, and mistrust. European Journal of Social Psychology, 46, 807-817. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2211
Meeusen, C., & Dhont, K. (2015). Parent–Child similarity in common and specific components of prejudice: The role of ideological attitudes and political discussion. European Journal of Personality, 29, 585-598. doi:10.1002/per.2011
Using a representative sample of Belgian adolescents (N=1530) and both their parents, we investigated the parent–child similarity in prejudice towards different out-groups and ideological attitudes (right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation). Contrary to previous studies, first, we distinguished between common and specific components of prejudice to test whether the parent–child similarity in one specific type of prejudice was symptomatic of parent–child similarity in prejudice towards out-groups in general. Second, we evaluated whether the parent–child similarity in common and specific components of prejudice was related to the parent–child similarity in ideological attitudes. Third, we investigated the moderating role of political discussion in the intergenerational framework of ideology and prejudice. Results indicated that parent–child similarity was particularly pronounced for the common rather than the specific component of prejudice and that the similarity in ideological attitudes was partly related to the similarity in the common component of prejudice. Finally, adolescents who discuss social and political issues more (versus less) frequently with their parents more strongly resembled their parents in the common component of prejudice and levels of authoritarianism. These results suggest that generalized prejudice runs in families and highlight politicization of the family as an important socialization mechanism.
Onraet, E., Van Hiel, A., Dhont, K., Hodson, G., Schittekatte, M., & De Pauw, S. (2015). The Association of Cognitive Ability with Right-wing Ideological Attitudes and Prejudice: A Meta-analytic Review. European Journal of Personality, 29, 599-621. doi:10.1002/per.2027
The cognitive functioning of individuals with stronger endorsement of right-wing and prejudiced attitudes has elicited much scholarly interest. Whereas many studies investigated cognitive styles, less attention has been directed towards cognitive ability. Studies investigating the latter topic generally reveal lower cognitive ability to be associated with stronger endorsement of right-wing ideological attitudes and greater prejudice. However, this relationship has remained widely unrecognized in literature. The present meta-analyses revealed an average effect size of r =-.20 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) [-0.23, -0.17]; based on 67 studies, N=84 017] for the relationship between cognitive ability and right-wing ideological attitudes and an average effect size of r=-.19 (95% CI [-0.23, -0.16]; based on 23 studies, N=27 011) for the relationship between cognitive ability and prejudice. Effect sizes did not vary significantly across different cognitive abilities and sample characteristics. The effect strongly depended on the measure used for ideological attitudes and prejudice, with the strongest effect sizes for authoritarianism and ethnocentrism. We conclude that cognitive ability is an important factor in the genesis of ideological attitudes and prejudice and thus should become more central in theorizing and model building.
Hodson, G., & Dhont, K. (2015). The person-based nature of prejudice: Individual difference predictors of intergroup negativity. European Review of Social Psychology, 26, 1-42. doi:10.1080/10463283.2015.1070018
Person-based factors influence a range of meaningful life outcomes, including intergroup processes, and have long been implicated in explaining prejudice. In addition to demonstrating significant heritability, person-based factors are evident in expressions of generalised prejudice, a robust finding that some people (relative to others) consistently score higher in prejudice towards multiple outgroups. Our contemporary review includes personality factors, ideological orientations (e.g., authoritarianism), religiosity, anxiety, threat, disgust sensitivity, and cognitive abilities and styles. Meta-analytic syntheses demonstrate that such constructs consistently predict prejudice, often at the upper bounds of effect sizes observed in psychological research. We conclude that prejudice theories need to better integrate person- and situation-based factors, including their interaction, to capture the complexity of prejudice and inform intervention development.
Dhont, K., & Hodson, G. (2014). Why do right-wing adherents engage in more animal exploitation and meat consumption?. Personality and Individual Differences, 64, 12-17. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.02.002
Despite the well-documented implications of right-wing ideological dispositions for human intergroup relations, surprisingly little is understood about the implications for human-animal relations. We investigate why right-wing ideologies – social dominance orientation (SDO) and right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) – positively predict attitudes toward animal exploitation and meat consumption. Two survey studies conducted in heterogeneous community samples (Study 1, N = 260; Study 2, N = 489) demonstrated that right-wing ideologies predict greater acceptance of animal exploitation and more meat consumption through two explaining mechanisms: (a) perceived threat from non-exploitive ideologies to the dominant carnist ideology (for both SDO and RWA) and (b) belief in human superiority over animals (for SDO). These findings hold after controlling for hedonistic pleasure from eating meat. Right-wing adherents do not simply consume more animals because they enjoy the taste of meat, but because doing so supports dominance ideologies and resistance to cultural change. Psychological parallels between human intergroup relations and human-animal relations are considered.
Dhont, K., Hodson, G., Costello, K., & MacInnis, C. (2014). Social Dominance Orientation Connects Prejudicial Human-Human and Human-Animal Relations. Personality and Individual Differences, 61-62, 105-108. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2013.12.020
Recent theorizing suggests that biases toward human outgroups may be related to biases toward (non-human) animals, and that individual differences in desire for group dominance and inequality may underlie associations between these biases. The present investigation directly tests these assumptions. As expected, the results of the current study (N = 191) demonstrate that endorsing speciesist attitudes is significantly and positively associated with negative attitudes toward ethnic outgroups. Importantly, individual differences in social dominance orientation accounted for the association between speciesist and ethnic outgroup attitudes; that is, these variables are associated due to their common association with social dominance orientation that underpins these biases. We conclude that social dominance orientation represents a critical individual difference variable underlying ideological belief systems and attitudes pertaining to both human-human intergroup and human-animal relations.
Turner, R., Dhont, K., Hewstone, M., Prestwich, A., & Vonofakou, C. (2014). The Role of Personality Factors in the Reduction of Intergroup Anxiety and Amelioration of Outgroup Attitudes via Intergroup Contact. European Journal of Personality, 28, 180-192. doi:10.1002/per.1927
Two studies investigated the role of personality factors in the amelioration of outgroup attitudes via intergroup contact. In study 1, the effect of extraversion on outgroup attitude operated via an increase in cross-group friendship, whereas openness to experience and agreeableness had a direct effect on outgroup attitude. In study 2, we included intergroup anxiety as a mediator explaining these relationships, and we ruled out ingroup friendship as a potential confound. We found that the relationships between openness to experience and agreeableness on the one hand and outgroup attitude on the other were mediated by reduced intergroup anxiety. In addition, the effect of extraversion on outgroup attitude operated via an increase in cross-group friendship that was in turn associated with lower levels of intergroup anxiety. Across both studies, the friendship–attitude relationship was stronger among those low in agreeableness and extraversion. We discuss the importance of integrating personality and situational approaches to prejudice reduction in optimizing the impact of contact-based interventions.
Onraet, E., Dhont, K., & Van Hiel, A. (2014). The relationships between internal and external threat and right-wing attitudes: A three-wave longitudinal study. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40, 715-725. doi:10.1177/0146167214524256
The interplay between threat and right-wing attitudes has received much research attention, but its longitudinal relationship has hardly been investigated. In this study, we investigated the longitudinal relationships between internal and external threat and right-wing attitudes using a cross-lagged design at three different time points in a large nationally representative sample (N = 800). We found evidence for bidirectional relationships. Higher levels of external threat were related to higher levels of Right-Wing Authoritarianism and to both the egalitarianism and dominance dimensions of Social Dominance Orientation at a later point in time. Conversely, higher levels of RWA were also related to increased perception of external threat later in time. Internal threat did not yield significant direct or indirect longitudinal relationships with right-wing attitudes. Theoretical and practical implications of these longitudinal effects are discussed.
Dhont, K., Van Hiel, A., & Hewstone, M. (2014). Changing the ideological roots of prejudice: Longitudinal effects of ethnic intergroup contact on social dominance orientation. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 17, 27-44. doi:10.1177/1368430213497064
Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) has been reported to be strongly related to a multitude of intergroup phenomena, but little is known about situational experiences that may influence SDO. Drawing from research on intergroup contact theory, we argue that positive intergroup contact is able to reduce SDO-levels. The results of an intergroup contact intervention study among high school students (Study 1, N=71) demonstrated that SDO-levels were indeed attenuated after the intervention. Furthermore, this intervention effect on SDO was especially pronounced among students reporting a higher quality of contact. A cross-lagged longitudinal survey among adults (Study 2, N=363) extended these findings by demonstrating that positive intergroup contact is able to decrease SDO over time. Moreover, we did not obtain evidence for the idea that people high in SDO would engage less in intergroup contact. These findings indicate that intergroup contact erodes one of the important socio-ideological bases of generalized prejudice and discrimination.
Van Assche, J., Roets, A., Dhont, K., & Van Hiel, A. (2014). Diversity and Out-Group Attitudes in the Netherlands: The Role of Authoritarianism and Social Threat in the Neighbourhood. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 40, 1414-1430. doi:10.1080/1369183X.2013.876895
Previous studies have obtained divergent findings for the association between ethnic diversity and majority members’ attitudes towards immigrants, suggesting that this relationship is moderated by individual or contextual difference variables. In a community
sample of Dutch citizens (N = 399), we investigated the role of two potential moderators: right-wing authoritarianism and social threat in the local neighbourhood. Moreover, we assessed diversity and social threat in the neighbourhood with both
subjective and objective measures. The results indicated that diversity was negatively related to positive attitudes towards immigrants among high authoritarians and among people experiencing their immediate environment as threatening. Conversely, diversity was positively related to out-group attitudes among low authoritarian individuals and among people residing in more secure neighbourhoods. The theoretical and practical implications of these person–environment and environment–environment interactions
Dhont, K., & Hodson, G. (2014). Does lower cognitive ability predict greater prejudice?. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23, 454-459. doi:10.1177/0963721414549750
Historically, leading scholars proposed a theoretical negative association between cognitive abilities and prejudice. Until recently, however, the field has been relatively silent on this topic, citing concerns with potential confounds (e.g., education levels). Instead, researchers focused on other individual-difference predictors of prejudice, including cognitive style, personality, negativity bias, and threat. Yet there exists a solid empirical paper trail demonstrating that lower cognitive abilities (e.g., abstract-reasoning skills and verbal, nonverbal, and general intelligence) predict greater prejudice. We discuss how the effects of lower cognitive ability on prejudice are explained (i.e., mediated) by greater endorsement of right-wing socially conservative attitudes. We conclude that the field will benefit from a recognition of, and open discussion about, differences in cognitive abilities between those lower versus higher in prejudice. To advance the scientific discussion, we propose the Cognitive Ability and Style to Evaluation model, which outlines the cognitive psychological underpinnings of ideological belief systems and prejudice.
Onraet, E., Van Hiel, A., Dhont, K., & Pattyn, S. (2013). Internal and external threat in relationship with right-wing attitudes. Journal of Personality, 81, 233-248. doi:10.1111/jopy.12011
Previous studies on the relationship between threat and right-wing attitudes have tended to focus on either internal threat, emanating from one's private life, or external threat, originating from society. However, these studies failed to examine whether these types of threats constitute two distinctive dimensions and which of these threats is most closely related to right-wing attitudes.
In order to explore the dimensions underlying threat, a factor analysis on a variety of threat scales was conducted (Study 1; N?=?300). Furthermore, in a meta-analysis (Study 2; total N?=?22,086) and a questionnaire study in a large representative sample (Study 3, N?=?800) the strength of the relationships of internal and external threat with right-wing attitudes were investigated.
The present studies revealed that internal and external threat can be considered as two distinct dimensions underlying threat. Moreover, whereas external threat yielded strong relationships with right-wing attitudes, internal threat only explained a minor part of the variance in these attitudes.
External rather than internal threat underlies the relationship between threat and right-wing attitudes.
Dhont, K., Roets, A., & Van Hiel, A. (2013). The intergenerational transmission of need for closure underlies the transmission of authoritarianism and anti-immigrant prejudice. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 779-784. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.12.016
Previous research has identified need for closure (NFC) as an important motivational cognitive basis of authoritarianism and prejudice. However, to date, the role of NFC in the
intergenerational similarity in authoritarianism and prejudice has remained unclear. In a sample of 169 parent-child dyads, we investigated the similarity between parents and children
in NFC and tested whether this intergenerational similarity may account for the intergenerational similarity in authoritarianism and anti-immigrant prejudice. Our results revealed that parental levels of NFC were indeed concordant with the levels of NFC in their
children. Even more importantly, parental NFC was indirectly related to child authoritarianism and prejudice in two ways. The first pathway proceeded through the direct
relationships between parental and children’s levels of authoritarianism and prejudice. The
second pathway, however, bypassed parental levels of authoritarianism and prejudice and
proceeded through the intergenerational similarity in NFC. Our findings thus indicate that a
significant portion of children’s levels of authoritarianism and anti-immigrant prejudice can
be explained by parents–child similarity in motivated cognition. Implications for developmental theories of prejudice acquisition are discussed.
Onraet, E., Van Hiel, A., & Dhont, K. (2013). The relationship between right-wing ideological attitudes and psychological well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 509-522. doi:10.1177/0146167213478199
The relationship between right-wing ideological attitudes and psychological well-being has been intensively studied. While some studies supported the hypothesis that right-wing attitudes are negatively related with well-being, other research yielded positive or non-significant relationships. We conducted a meta-analysis (total samples = 97, total N = 69,221) of measures of well-being, including positive and negative affect, life satisfaction, self-esteem and intrinsic goal pursuit. The obtained effect sizes were generally weak and non-significant, except for a moderate relationship between intrinsic goal pursuit and social dominance orientation. Our results thus do not support previous theories that claim that right-wing attitudes yield substantial relationships with psychological well-being.
Christ, O., Asbrock, F., Dhont, K., Pettigrew, T., & Wagner, U. (2013). The Effects of Intergroup Climate on Immigrants’ Acculturation Preferences. Zeitschrift Fur Psychologie - Journal of Psychology, 221, 252-257. doi:10.1027/2151-2604/a000155
The effect of the intergroup climate on acculturation preferences among host-majority and immigrant group members has been long acknowledged in the acculturation literature. Only recently, however, research has started to directly examine the effect of the intergroup climate on acculturation preferences. In the present research, we aimed to contribute to this new and important line of research by adopting a multilevel approach to examine the effect of the intergroup climate (social context level of analysis) on immigrants’ acculturation preferences
(individual level of analysis) over and above individual-level predictors of acculturation preferences. Based on recent cross-sectional survey data from Germany, we examined the acculturation preferences (cultural maintenance and maintenance of intergroup relations) of members of immigrant groups (immigrants from non-Western countries; N_individual level = 317) living in different districts in Germany (N_district-level = 179). On the social context level, we used the mean prejudice- and acculturation preferences-scores of the German respondents (N = 3,495) as proxies for the intergroup climate within these districts. Results of multilevel path analysis showed that on the context level, a negative intergroup climate (i.e., a higher amount of prejudice of the German respondents within the districts) was related to a stronger desire for cultural maintenance among the immigrants. The potential implications of a hostile intergroup climate for the acculturation process are discussed.
Franssen, V., Dhont, K., & Van Hiel, A. (2013). Age-Related Differences in Ethnic Prejudice: Evidence of the Mediating Effect of Right-Wing Attitudes. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 23, 252-257. doi:10.1002/casp.2109
The present study revealed age-related differences in ethnic prejudice in a heterogeneous (total N?=?1,308) and a representative (N?=?800) sample, using measures of blatant and subtle prejudice. The relationship between age and blatant and subtle prejudice was found to be fully mediated by right-wing social-cultural attitudes (i.e. authoritarianism and cultural conservatism).
Dhont, K., Van Hiel, A., De Bolle, M., & Roets, A. (2012). Longitudinal Intergroup Contact Effects on Prejudice Using Self- and Observer-Reports. British Journal of Social Psychology, 51, 221-238. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8309.2011.02039.x
Longitudinal effects of intergroup contact on prejudice were investigated in a sample of 65 young adults (Sample 1) and a sample of their close friends (Sample 2, N = 172), adopting a full cross-lagged panel design. We first validated the self-report measure of intergroup contact from sample 1 with observer ratings from sample 2 by demonstrating that self-reports and observer ratings of contact were highly correlated. Moreover, we obtained significant cross-lagged effects of intergroup contact on prejudice with both contact measures, thereby providing a second validation for the use of self-reports of intergroup contact. Finally, by the use of latent change modeling we demonstrated that, although no overall significant change in contact and prejudice over time was found, there was meaningful variation in absolute change in the individual levels of intergroup contact and prejudice. In particular, some individuals showed increases while others showed decreases in contact or prejudice across time. Moreover, higher levels of intergroup contact at Time 1 were followed by larger subsequent decreases in prejudice between Time 1 and Time 2, and changes in contact were significantly and negatively related to changes in prejudice. Methodological implications of the findings are discussed.
Dhont, K., & Van Hiel, A. (2012). Intergroup contact buffers against the intergenerational transmission of authoritarianism and racial prejudice. Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 231-234. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2011.12.008
The present study focused on the buffering role of positive intergroup contact in the intergenerational transmission of authoritarianism and racial prejudice in a sample of adolescents and one of their parents. In accordance with our expectations, adolescents’ intergroup contact experiences moderated the mediated relationships between parental authoritarianism and adolescents’ prejudice, both via adolescents’ authoritarianism and via parental prejudice. These relationships were stronger among adolescents with lower, rather than higher, levels of intergroup contact. We conclude that intergroup contact buffers the indirect relationship between parents’ authoritarianism and adolescents’ racial prejudice and therefore constitutes a promising means of reducing the intergenerational transmission of prejudice.
Roets, A., Van Hiel, A., & Dhont, K. (2012). Is sexism a gender issue? A motivated social cognition perspective on men’s and women’s sexist attitudes toward own and other gender. European Journal of Personality, 26, 350-359. doi:10.1002/per.843
The present research investigated the antecedents of ambivalent sexism (i.e., hostile and benevolent forms) in both men and women toward own and other gender. In two heterogeneous adult samples (Study 1: N = 179 and Study 2: N = 222), it as revealed that gender itself was only a minor predictor of sexist attitudes compared to the substantial impact of individual differences in general motivated cognition (i.e., Need for closure). Analyses further showed that the relationship between Need for closure and sexism was mediated by social attitudes (i.e., right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation), which were differently related to benevolent and hostile forms of sexism. In the discussion it is argued that sexism primarily stems from individual differences in motivated cognitive style, which relates to peoples? perspective on the social world, rather than from group differences between men and women.
Dhont, K., Van Hiel, A., & De Cremer, D. (2012). Externalities awareness in anticommons dilemmas decreases defective behavior. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 25, 228-238. doi:10.1002/bdm.718
The present article explores the effect of the salience of collective consequences of opportunistic behavior in commons and anticommons dilemmas. Making this type of externalities salient was expected to increase the awareness of the conflict between collective and personal interests, especially in the anticommons dilemma. The results of a vignette study (Study 1, N = 100) and a laboratory experiment (Study 2, N = 55) confirmed our hypotheses, revealing more opportunistic behavior in the anticommons than in the commons dilemma when externalities were not made salient, while no significant dilemma effect was obtained when the externalities were made salient. Moreover, the results of Study 2 demonstrated that the dilemma effect on cooperation was mediated by externalities awareness. The positive effects of increments in externalities awareness on cooperation are discussed.
Pattyn, S., Van Hiel, A., Dhont, K., & Onraet, E. (2012). Stripping the Political Cynic: A Psychological Exploration of the Concept of Political Cynicism. European Journal of Personality, 26, 566-579. doi:10.1002/per.858
The high level of political cynicism in contemporary society is often considered a serious threat to democracy. The concept, however, has received only scant attention in psychology. The current work introduces political cynicism and extensively explores its psychological implications by investigating the concept’s validity, predictive utility, and status as a dispositional variable. First, political cynicism is empirically distinguishable from the closely related constructs social cynicism and political trust. Furthermore, political cynicism is strongly related to a wide range of political variables, such as voting intentions, political normlessness, and political estrangement, as well as to broad social attitudes and racial prejudice. Finally, we show that political cynicism yields limited, but meaningful relationships with Neuroticism and Agreeableness, although social cynicism is more clearly related to the Five-Factor Model personality dimensions. It is therefore concluded that political cynicism can be reliably measured and distinguished from closely related concepts, and that it yields meaningful relationships with other relevant psychological variables.
Dhont, K., & Van Hiel, A. (2011). Direct contact and authoritarianism as moderators between extended contact and reduced prejudice: Lower threat and greater trust as mediators. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 14, 223-237. doi:10.1177/1368430210391121
Using a representative sample of Dutch adults (N = 1238), we investigated the moderating influence of direct contact and authoritarianism on the potential of extended contact to reduce prejudice. As expected, direct contact and authoritarianism moderated the effect of extended contact on prejudice. Moreover, the third-order moderation effect was also significant, revealing that extended contact has the strongest effect among high authoritarians with low levels of direct contact. We identified trust and perceived threat as the mediating processes underlying these moderation effects. The present study thus attests to the theoretical and practical relevance of reducing prejudice via extended contact. The discussion focuses on the role of extended contact in relation to direct contact and authoritarianism as well as on the importance of trust in intergroup contexts.