Attachment and prejudice: The mediating role of empathy

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Abstract

In two studies, we examined the novel hypothesis that empathy is a mechanism through which the relationship between attachment patterns and prejudice can be explained. Study 1 examined primed attachment security (vs. neutral prime), empathy, and prejudice towards immigrants. Study 2 examined primed attachment patterns (secure, avoidant, anxious), empathy subscales (perspective taking, empathic concern, personal distress), and prejudice towards Muslims. Across both studies, empathy mediated the relationship between primed attachment security and low prejudice levels. The findings suggest that enhancing felt security and empathic skills in individuals high in attachment–avoidance may lead to reduced prejudice.

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