May. 11th, 2017
...findings confirm that conservatives, liberals, the religious and the nonreligious are each prejudiced against those with opposing views... surprisingly, each group is about equally prejudiced...
In the study, bias on both ends was largely driven by seeing the opposing groups as limiting one’s personal freedom.
...controlled for participants’ demographics and traditionalism (smart people were more supportive of “newer lifestyles” and less supportive of “traditional family ties”), intelligence didn’t correlate with overall levels of prejudice...
Knowing all this, can we change tolerance levels? You might think that the mind-expanding enterprise of education would reduce prejudice. But according to another presentation at the SPSP meeting, it does not. It does, however, teach people to cover it up. Maxine Najle, a researcher at the University of Kentucky, asked people if they would consider voting for a presidential candidate who was atheist, black, Catholic, gay, Muslim or a woman. When asked directly, participants with an education beyond high school reported a greater willingness to vote for these groups than did less-educated participants. But when asked in a more indirect way, with more anonymity, the two groups showed equal prejudice... higher education seems to instill an understanding of the appropriate levels of intolerance to express, not necessarily higher tolerance.
One of the most consistent ways to increase tolerance is contact with the other side and sharing the experience of working toward a goal.