Social and Economic Ideologies Differentially Predict Prejudice Across the Political Spectrum, but Social Issues Are Most Divisive

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Abstract

Liberals and conservatives both express prejudice toward ideologically dissimilar others (Brandt et al., 2014). Previous work on ideological prejudice did not take advantage of evidence showing that ideology is multidimensional, with social and economic ideologies representing related but separable belief systems. In 5 studies (total N = 4912), we test 3 competing hypotheses of a multidimensional account of ideological prejudice. The dimension-specific symmetry hypothesis predicts that social and economic ideologies differentially predict prejudice against targets who are perceived to vary on the social and economic political dimensions, respectively. The social primacy hypothesis predicts that such ideological worldview conflict is experienced more strongly along the social than economic dimension. The social-specific asymmetry hypothesis predicts that social conservatives will be more prejudiced than social liberals, with no specific hypotheses for the economic dimension. Using multiple target groups, multiple prejudice measures (e.g., global evaluations, behavior), and multiple social and economic ideology measures (self-placement, issue positions), we found relatively consistent support for the dimension-specific symmetry and social primacy hypotheses, and no support for the social-specific asymmetry hypothesis. These results suggest that worldview conflict and negative intergroup attitudes and behaviors are dimension-specific, but that the social dimension appears to inspire more political conflict than the economic dimension.

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