Exploring potential components of prejudice toward certain stigmatized others
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Social cognition theory promotes the idea that an individual’s knowledge structures, values, and beliefs will influence perceptions of the world in particular ways (Abrams & Hogg, 1999; Kunda, 1999). Differences in locus of control, attributional style, and belief in a just world have been shown relevant in shaping interpretations of behaviors and situations (e.g., Miller, 1984; Calhoun, 1994; Karuza & Carey, 1984). There is evidence that a specific combination of these factors may create the recipe for an ideology of blame in which individuals are likely to blame others for their condition and to derogate those in undesirable circumstances (Crandall, 1994). Previous research suggests that the individualist value orientation is more subject to the types of attitudes that might promote this ideology of blame. However, relatively few studies have sought to link these attitudes and beliefs with individuallevel measurements of collectivist/individualist tendencies, which are known as vi allocentrism and idiocentrism. When faced with evidence that the world is on a trend toward becoming more individualist (Triandis, 1997; Hui & Yee, 1994), it becomes more important to explore the values and beliefs that may lead individuals to a set of cognitions that foster prejudice toward certain others whose condition can be seen as either controllable or uncontrollable. This dissertation begins by bringing together the research on individualism/collectivism and idiocentrism/allocentrism, locus of control, belief in a just world, and attributions of personal blame to explore relationships that may be useful for predicting negative attitudes toward criminals, homosexuals, fat people, and poor people. Evidence does not support the existence of an ideology of blame. Rather, negative attitudes toward stigmatized others are best described as stemming from an element of fear. Multiple regression models are described for predicting Anticriminal, Antipoor, Antifat, and Antihomosexual Attitudes among men and women. In addition, methods for altering attitudes are discussed and one possible educational application is presented.