Reconstruing Intolerance: Abstract Thinking Reduces Conservatives' Prejudice Against Nonnormative Groups

Jamie B. Luguri, Jaime L. Napier, John F. Dovidio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Myrdal (1944) described the "American dilemma" as the conflict between abstract national values ("liberty and justice for all") and more concrete, everyday prejudices. We leveraged construal-level theory to empirically test Myrdal's proposition that construal level (abstract vs. concrete) can influence prejudice. We measured individual differences in construal level (Study 1) and manipulated construal level (Studies 2 and 3); across these three studies, we found that adopting an abstract mind-set heightened conservatives' tolerance for groups that are perceived as deviating from Judeo-Christian values (gay men, lesbians, Muslims, and atheists). Among participants who adopted a concrete mind-set, conservatives were less tolerant of these nonnormative groups than liberals were, but political orientation did not have a reliable effect on tolerance among participants who adopted an abstract mind-set. Attitudes toward racial out-groups and dominant groups (e.g., Whites, Christians) were unaffected by construal level. In Study 3, we found that the effect of abstract thinking on prejudice was mediated by an increase in concerns about fairness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-763
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Volume23
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2012

Keywords

  • personal values
  • prejudice
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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