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McNair Scholars Program

Sara Runnion Lewton, L.M.L.P.


Education: Bachelor of Science in psychology (August 2001)

Master of Science in psychology from Fort Hays State University

McNair Project: Characteristics of a Prejudiced Person (2001)

Mentor: Catherine Cozzarelli, Ph.D.

Many researchers have described prejudice as a "generalized attitude". The first goal of this study was to examine whether prejudice against Blacks, homosexuals and poor men and women were all related. Currently, there has not been research conducted to explore whether prejudice toward the poor relates to prejudice against other target groups. This hypothesis was examined by looking at the pattern of correlations among these variables. The second goal of this study was to examine whether the same social ideologies and demographic variables predict prejudice against all of the target groups. The social ideologies examined were the belief in a just world, the Protestant work ethic and authoritarianism. Demographic variables that were examined included political affiliation, gender, and age. The data for this study were part of a larger data set collected by Cozzarelli, Tagler & Wilkinson (2001) which contained measures of sociodeographic variables, core American values and ideologies and attitudes toward the poor. The participants (n=209, 75 male and 131 female) for this study were from Kansas State University and volunteered to complete this experiment to fulfill a general psychology course requirement. The majority of participants identified themselves as Independent and Republican/Conservative. Results showed that the majority of participants strongly endorsed authoritarian values and only moderately endorsed Protestant work ethic values and beliefs in a just world. The theory that prejudice is a "generalized attitude" was only partially supported in the current study. Results revealed that people with more negative attitudes toward Blacks were also more likely to hold negative attitudes toward homosexuals and poor women. Attitudes toward poor men were not strongly related to attitudes toward the other target groups. It was also true though, that all of the significant correlations were only moderate in magnitude. Therefore, there does not appear to be a strongly dominant prejudiced personality. Secondly, results showed that the ideologies and demographic variables did not predict prejudice against all three target groups to the same extent.