Shifting ground: The variable use of essentialism in contexts of inclusion and exclusion

Morton, Thomas A., Hornsey, Matthew J. and Postmes, Tom (2009) Shifting ground: The variable use of essentialism in contexts of inclusion and exclusion. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48 1: 35-59. doi:10.1348/014466607X270287


Author Morton, Thomas A.
Hornsey, Matthew J.
Postmes, Tom
Title Shifting ground: The variable use of essentialism in contexts of inclusion and exclusion
Journal name British Journal of Social Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0144-6665
Publication date 2009-03
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1348/014466607X270287
Volume 48
Issue 1
Start page 35
End page 59
Total pages 25
Editor John Dixon
Jolanda Jetten
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher The British Psychological Society
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
1701 Psychology
970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Abstract Past research has demonstrated a broad association between prejudice and essentialism. However, research has also shown that essentialism and prejudice are not always linked in the same way – sometimes essentialist thinking is associated with prejudice, but sometimes it is not. The aim of the present research was to explore experimentally how prejudice might relate to essentialist beliefs about race differently depending on how race is being used (inclusively or exclusively) and who is the implied target of such treatment (ethnic minorities or the white majority). Study 1 (N equals 178) demonstrated that, although prejudice among white Australians is typically related to essentialist beliefs about Aboriginal identity, this relationship disappeared when racial criteria were used to exclude someone for ‘being white’. Under these conditions, prejudiced participants expressed opposition to such treatment and de-essentialized race. Study 2 (N equals 198) broadly replicated this pattern in a British context and indicated that prejudiced participants' de-essentialism of race was due to a stronger emphasis on values of equality under the same conditions. These results demonstrate that prejudiced people endorse essentialism when it can be used to exclude others (who they want to exclude), but reject essentialism when it is used to exclude them.
Formatted abstract
Past research has demonstrated a broad association between prejudice and essentialism. However, research has also shown that essentialism and prejudice are not always linked in the same way – sometimes essentialist thinking is associated with prejudice, but sometimes it is not. The aim of the present research was to explore experimentally how prejudice might relate to essentialist beliefs about race differently depending on how race is being used (inclusively or exclusively) and who is the implied target of such treatment (ethnic minorities or the white majority). Study 1 (N=178) demonstrated that, although prejudice among white Australians is typically related to essentialist beliefs about Aboriginal identity, this relationship disappeared when racial criteria were used to exclude someone for ‘being white’. Under these conditions, prejudiced participants expressed opposition to such treatment and de-essentialized race. Study 2 (N=198) broadly replicated this pattern in a British context and indicated that prejudiced participants' de-essentialism of race was due to a stronger emphasis on values of equality under the same conditions. These results demonstrate that prejudiced people endorse essentialism when it can be used to exclude others (who they want to exclude), but reject essentialism when it is used to exclude them.
Keyword PSYCHOLOGICAL ESSENTIALISM
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 17 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 20 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Thu, 03 Sep 2009, 08:29:58 EST by Mr Andrew Martlew on behalf of School of Psychology