Personal accounts for religious prejudice in Christians

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Despite the long history of research on prejudice, investigation into religious prejudice, defined as the derogation of individuals from religions other than one’s own, is limited. Grounded in the justification-suppression model of prejudice, the present study attempted to identify personal justifications (i.e., rationales facilitating the experience and/or expression of prejudice) underlying religious prejudice and examine their ability to predict expressions of prejudice. The aim of Study 1 was to describe the domain of such accounts, by asking participants, specifically Mechanical Turk workers and college students, to provide personal accounts explaining their own level of self-reported religious prejudice. Analyzed through thematic analyses, these accounts revealed five themes: 1) I lack information about this religion, 2) I have a problem with their beliefs, 3) I have interpersonal concerns, 4) They provoke unpleasant emotions, and 5) They are terrible people. In Study 2, exemplars from each of the themes were provided as statements to participants, who rated their agreement on a rating scale before completing a measure of religious prejudice/bias. The ratings of the exemplars were entered into an exploratory factor analysis, which resulted in three factors: 1) Negative Evaluation, 2) Belief Differences, 3) Personal Ignorance. Although all three factors were predictive of religious prejudice when examined via bivariate correlations, only Negative Evaluation and Belief Differences were significant when examined via multiple regression, with Belief Differences outperforming Negative Evaluation. Such a result provides support for one component of the justification-suppression model of prejudice and poses implications for social efforts directed towards reducing prejudice.

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