Research has associated political conservatism with prejudice toward various stereotyped groups. But research has also shown that people select and interpret evidence consistent with their own pre-existing attitudes and ideologies. In this article, Chambers and colleagues hypothesized that, contrary to what some research might indicate, prejudice is not restricted to a particular political ideology.
Rather, the conflicting values of liberals and conservatives give rise to different kinds of prejudice, with each group favoring other social groups that share their values. In the first study, three diverse groups of participants rated the ideological position and their overall impression of 34 different target groups.
Participants' impressions fell in line with their ideology. For example, conservatives expressed more prejudice than liberals against groups that were identified as liberal (e.g., African-Americans, homosexuals), but less prejudice against groups identified as conservative (e.g., Christian fundamentalists, business people).
In the second and third studies, participants were presented with 6 divisive political issues and descriptions of racially diverse target persons for each issue. Neither liberals' nor conservatives' impressions of the target persons were affected by the race of the target, but both were strongly influenced by the target's political attitudes.
From these findings the researchers conclude that prejudices commonly linked with ideology are most likely derived from perceived ideological differences and not from other characteristics like racial tolerance or intolerance.
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