Prejudice and Bias (An Overview of Interests in the Lab)

We study a wide range of prejudices and “isms”, ranging from the common biases studied in most prejudice labs (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia) to biases against groups typically overlooked by other researchers (e.g., prejudices against vegans or asexuals).

We even study prejudices toward non-human animals (i.e., speciesism). Each specific form of prejudice, and its overlap with other prejudices, informs us about human nature more generally. As such, we are interested in the factors that give rise to prejudice, that sustain prejudice, and that attenuate prejudice.

Personality, Individual Differences, and Ideology

We consider not only situational/contextual factors, but personality and individual difference factors. This often takes the form of a Person x Situation approach (and multi-level modelling).

We often study ideological variables such as social dominance orientation and right-wing authoritarianism. For recent reviews, see Hodson and Dhont (2015, ERSP) and Hodson (2011, CDPS). See also Hodson, Costello and MacInnis (2013) and Hodson, Turner, and Choma (2017).

Intergroup Emotions

In the lab, we manipulate (or induce) and measure a range of emotions relevant to prejudice. Of particular interest are disgust (especially intergroup disgust) and empathy. See Hodson et al. (2013, JESP; see also Choma, Hodson, & Costello, 2012, JESP) for the introduction of the Intergroup Disgust Sensitivity Scale (ITG-DS).

Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination

One key objective is to discover methods capable of reducing or limiting intergroup bias. To this end we study processes such as recategorization (common ingroup identity), intergroup perspective-taking, intergroup contact, and intergroup friendships.

Sometimes our approaches are more indirect. For instance, in keeping with the Interspecies Model of Prejudice (e.g., Hodson et al., 2014), decreasing the perceived divide between humans and animals reduces the extent to which people dehumanize human outgroups (and express prejudice toward those groups). For a review of the contact literature, see Hodson and Hewstone (2013).

Dehumanization and Speciesism

When we think of others as “less than human” we remove the protections normally afforded to people. For instance, when thinking of a racial group as ape-like (and thus “less human”) that racial group is typically afforded less protection and concern.

This tells us a great deal — not only about how we think about other people, but how we think about animals. Indeed, we are increasingly discovering that forms of oppression and bias are inter-related as per our SD-HARM model (see Dhont, Hodson, & Leite, 2016, EJP). For an oversight on this thinking, see Hodson, MacInnis, and Costello (2014) and Hodson, Kteily, and Hoffarth (2014, TPM).