Individual difference and social status predictors of anti-Semitism and racism. US and Czech findings with the prejudice/ tolerance and right wing authoritarianism scales

The relationship of individual difference and social status variables to outgroup bias was studied in the Czech Republic and the US. Gough’s prejudice/ tolerance (Pr/To) and Altemeyer’s right wing authoritarianism (RWA) scales were employed with social status variables of gender, age, economic level, and ethnicity in predicting anti-Semitism and racial bias. One hundred and eighty-eight Czech and 281 US participants were included in the study. Results revealed similar cross-cultural relationships for Pr/To and RWA to outgroup bias. However, significant US and Czech differences existed for the social status variables in relationship to outgroup bias. For the Czech sample, men scored significantly higher on Pr/To, RWA, and the measures of outgroup bias while for the US sample of the outgroup bias measures varied by economic level. Hierarchical multiple regression results, controlling for social status variables, demonstrated similar predictive relationships of Pr/To and RWA for anti-Semitism with the Czech and US samples and anti-Roma bias ( Czech sample) and anti-Black racism (US sample). A two-factor model is proposed to examine individual difference predisposition to endorse outgroup bias.

This study illustrates how social status and individual difference variables contribute to the expression of outgroup bias in two diverse cultural contexts. While the findings point to the cross-cultural validity of Pr/To and RWA, the similarities and differences that emerged in their multiple relationships with outgroup hostility are also noteworthy.

The influence of what we have referred to as social status ( i.e. social category) variables in the expression of outgroup bias proved revealing when considered cross-culturally. For the Czech sample, the role of gender, and for the US sample, economic and ethnic differences played distinctly different roles in the expression of outgroup bias. For the Czech sample, bias against ethnic minority groups is mediated by the individual’s gender. Not only do men in the Czech Republic report greater bias against Jewish and Roma persons, but they also evidence personality characteristics related to a pre-disposition towards outgroup hostility. It appears that men in the Czech Republic (and perhaps elsewhere in eastern Europe) more readily embrace outgroup bias as a normative social attitude and ascribe to cynicism and authoritarianism as a solution to intergroup relations. Given the rise of hate-based gangs in the former eastern bloc states, our findings suggest that young men more so than women evidence social attitudes likely to make such groups acceptable in society.

This may not be a recent phenomenon. [ Payne (1995], e.g. has identified the social ideal of male dominance in the formation of authoritarian political organizations in Europe during the twentieth century, while [ Marlin (1990] has argued that a totalitarian worldview is a consequence of the rise to power of such organizations.

By comparison, with the US sample, economic status and not gender was related to differences in outgroup bias. This may be explained by the importance of economic status in shaping ingroup and outgroup perceptions in the US, whereas in the Czech Republic the role of a market-based social system is a still decidedly new phenomena.

However, differences in economic status for US subjects in terms of Pr/To is less clear-cut. It may be that the subjective ratings of economic level employed here reflect the presence of social desirability in participant self-ratings and that economic self-reference may be mediated by differences in Pr/To.

In contrast to other recent research, the influence of participant age did not emerge in either sample as a factor related to outgroup bias for university educated young adults. As such, we did not replicate the [ Pope-Davis and Ottavi (1994] finding for a similarly aged sample in the prediction of racist attitudes.

Our findings suggest that Pr/To and RWA constitute two distinct individual difference factors that are both related to outgroup bias. Conceptually, RWA constitutes a social attitude and belief system that is signified in part by a politically repressive ideology.

Gough’s Pr/To construct represents a belief system that is indicative of subjective distress and cynicism. The results of this study provide evidence of the cross-cultural validity of both Pr/To and RWA as predictors of outgroup bias. Consistent with the recent work of [ Dunbar, Saiz, Stela, ], Pr/To is a cross-culturally valid predictor of bias, even when social status factors are accounted for.

Our study provides one of the few cross-cultural examinations of the predictors of anti-Semitism. Not only was the relationship of Pr/To and RWA to anti-Semitism cross-culturally similar, but the measured degree of expression of anti-Semitism was also comparable, even though the two cultural contexts are distinctly different in terms of both history and intergroup contact.

Specifically, the absence of a significant Jewish population in the Czech Republic (which is currently reported as 2000 persons of Jewish heritage in a country of 10,250,000 citizens) is due in substantial part to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Nazis. At the beginning of World War II there were 120,000 Jews living in what is now the Czech Republic. The Holocaust resulted in the deaths of thousands of Czechoslovakian-born Jews. In contrast, while anti-Semitism has long been a problem in the US, there has been no event of similar magnitude in North America as that of the Holocaust.

As a result, the history of anti-Semitism is significantly different between the Czech Republic and the US. Additionally, the Czech and US samples vary in terms of probability of intergroup contact experiences with Jewish cohorts. This is demonstrated most clearly by the presence of nearly 20% Jewish participants in the US sample (who were removed in the analyses) as compared to the presence of only 1% of Jewish participants in the Czech sample. In general then, it can be seen that daily contact between Jews and non-Jews would be quite different for the two samples. In spite of this, our findings indicate that anti-Semitic attitudes are quite similar. As such, while political history and daily contact experiences varied widely in the two samples, measured hostile attitudes did not. Our findings would support the observation of human rights experts that « one can have anti-Semitism without the presence of Jews » (Marta Alpert, personal communication, January 17, 2000).

Given the substantial body of research concerning the contact hypothesis, it is therefore particularly important for future research to consider what components of contact-such as affective characteristics or support by authorities-may influence anti-Semitic attitudes in communities with low frequency of routine intergroup interaction.

Our findings also explore the cross-cultural pathways of bias against persons of color. As with the prediction of anti-Semitism, the combination of social status variables, Pr/To, and RWA both played a role in racial bias.

For the Czech sample, anti-Semitism and Roma bias revealed a similar role for gender, the Pr/To, and RWA. However, for the US sample, anti-Black racism was unrelated to the social status variables of participant gender, economic level, or age. Rather, ethnic ingroup membership, and the Pr/To and RWA factors played a role in the endorsement of anti-Black stereotypes.

While it appears that social status variables influence outgroup hostility cross-culturally, the specific relationships may be distinctly different in the US and Czech Republics. This finding should serve as a note of caution for researchers and practitioners involved in intergroup issues, in that targeted populations may indeed vary, based upon the cultural context and worldviews in which the group is situated. Indeed, our findings would caution against presuming that similar social categories ( e.g. gender or economic status) or values contribute to outgroup bias for US and Czech individuals. Given that the cultural context may uniquely shape outgroup attitudes, educational efforts and social policies may prove ineffective if borrowed whole cloth from one setting ( e.g. the US) to another (in this case, the Czech Republic).

Edward Dunbar and Lucie Simonova

a Department of Psychology, University of California Los Angeles, Franz Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA b Karlova University, Prague, Czech Republic

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