Ideology and prejudice: the role of value conflicts

Psychol Sci. 2013 Feb 1;24(2):140-9. doi: 10.1177/0956797612447820. Epub 2013 Jan 3.


In three studies, we tested whether prejudice derives from perceived similarities and dissimilarities in political ideologies (the value-conflict hypothesis). Across three diverse samples in study 1, conservatives had less favorable impressions than liberals of groups that were identified as liberal (e.g., African Americans, homosexuals), but more favorable impressions than liberals of groups identified as conservative (e.g., Christian fundamentalists, businesspeople). In studies 2 and 3, we independently manipulated a target's race (European American or African American) and political attitudes (liberal or conservative). Both studies found symmetrical preferences, with liberals and conservatives each liking attitudinally similar targets more than dissimilar targets. The amount of prejudice was comparable for liberals and conservatives, and the race of the target had no effect. In all three studies, the same patterns were obtained even after controlling for individual differences on prejudice-related dimensions (e.g., system justification, social-dominance orientation, modern racism). The patterns strongly support the value-conflict hypothesis and indicate that prejudice exists on both sides of the political spectrum.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Attitude*
  • Dissent and Disputes
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Morals
  • Politics*
  • Prejudice / psychology*
  • Racism / psychology
  • Social Values*
  • Stereotyping