Equality hypocrisy, inconsistency, and prejudice: the unequal application of the universal human right to equality

Abrams, Dominic, Houston, Diane M., Van de Vyver, Julie and Vasiljevic, Milica (2015) Equality hypocrisy, inconsistency, and prejudice: the unequal application of the universal human right to equality. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 21 (1). pp. 28-46. ISSN 1078-1919

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pac0000084

Equality Hypocrisy, Inconsistency, and Prejudice: The Unequal Application of the Universal Human Right to Equality
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In Western culture, there appears to be widespread endorsement of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which stresses equality and freedom). But do people really apply their equality values equally, or are their principles and application systematically discrepant, resulting in equality hypocrisy? The present study, conducted with a representative national sample of adults in the United Kingdom (N 2,895), provides the first societal test of whether people apply their value of “equality for all” similarly across multiple types of status minority (women, disabled people, people aged over 70, Blacks, Muslims, and gay people). Drawing on theories of intergroup relations and stereotyping we examined, relation to each of these groups, respondents’ judgments of how important it is to satisfy their particular wishes, whether there should be greater or reduced equality of employment opportunities, and feelings of social distance. The data revealed a clear gap between general equality values and responses to these specific measures. Respondents prioritized equality more for “paternalized” groups (targets of benevolent prejudice: women, disabled, over 70) than others (Black people, Muslims, and homosexual people), demonstrating significant inconsistency. Respondents who valued equality more, or who expressed higher internal or external motivation to control prejudice, showed greater consistency in applying equality. However, even respondents who valued equality highly showed significant divergence in their responses to paternalized versus nonpaternalized groups, revealing a degree of hypocrisy. Implications for strategies to promote equality and challenge prejudice are discussed.

Keywords:equality, human rights, prejudice, JCOpen
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:23161
Deposited On:20 May 2016 16:40

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