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"What Do Other People Think?"

- The Role of Prejudice and Social Norms in the Expression of Opinions Against Gay Men

Barbara Masser and Lisa Phillips

University of Queensland, Australia

It is generally acknowledged that it is no longer socially acceptable to espouse prejudiced beliefs, yet preju- diced attitudes and discriminatory behaviours still occur. The present study sought to determine when and by whom prejudiced attitudes would be expressed. Specifically, an experiment was conducted to examine the impact of injunctive social norms emanating from a social group with which participants identified and participants' level of homophobia on the expression of opinions about gay men. Participants were presented with information indicating that the majority of group members agreed with a number of prejudiced injunc- tive statements (pro-prejudice norm), that the majority disagreed with the statements (anti-prejudice norm), or they were given no information about other group members' opinions (control). Participants then reported their own responses to the same injunctive statements. Participants' levels of homophobia were assessed either before or after they were given the normative information. The results indicated that activa-

tion of a pro-prejudice injunctive norm for those higher in homophobia resulted

being expressed in comparison to those who received no normative information or those who had a nonprej- udiced norm activated. Those lower in homophobia expressed less prejudiced opinions than those higher in homophobia and this did not differ as a function of social norm. The results demonstrate how prejudice can come to be expressed even in the presence of a broad societal norm that suggests that is it wrong to express such opinions.

in more prejudiced opinions

It is generally accepted within society today that one should .not be openly prejudiced or discriminatory towards members of minority groups (e.g., Brown, 1998; Monteith, Deneen,

& Tooman, 1996), yet incidents of verbal and physical racism,

homophobia and sexism (to name but a few) appear to still

be disturbingly commonplace (e.g

& Lorion, 2001; Herek, 2000). Previous research (e.g.,

Blanchard, Lilly, & Vaughn, 1991; Monteith et al., 1996) has considered the role of the social context in either encouraging or inhibiting expressions of prejudice. Specifically, research

has considered the impact of pro-prejudice and anti-prejudice social norms on expressions of prejudice with conflicting results. Drawing on the work of Cialdini and colleagues on descriptive and injunctive norms (e.g., Cialdini, Reno

& Kallgren, 1990) the aim of the present article is to re-

consider the impact of social norms on prejudice expression as a function of an individual's self-reported level of prejudice. The potential influence of the social context on expressions of prejudice was first documented in the late 1950s in refer- ence to racism (e.g., Pettigrew, 1958, 1959). As Duckitt (1992) notes the dominant norm at this time, at least in the US, was

one of pro-racist attitudes. As Monteith et al. (1996) and others have noted the social norm with regard to the expression of prejudice has changed since that time. It is no longer generally socially acceptable to espouse blatantly prejudiced attitudes or beliefs. Instead, a number of theorists (e.g., Crosby, Bromley,

& Saxe, 1980; Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986; Katz, Wackenhut, &

Hass, 1986; McConahay, 1986; Swim, Aikin. Hall, & Hunter, 1995; Tougas, Brown, Beaton, & Joly, 1995; cf. Walker, 2001) have suggested that contemporary expressions of prejudice have generally mutated to more subtle, symbolic or covert forms of expression generally focusing on issues of "fairness" and "equity" rather than individual characteristics of people. As such, whilst overt prejudice and covert prejudice coexist

Ford, 2000; Ford, Wentzel,

within society and individuals (and always have done, Walker, 2001), due to the existence of a nonprejudiced social norm in society, direct and blatant prejudice is rarely encountered in the cultural institutions of everyday life (e.g., the media; Brown, 1998). Despite this apparent cultural rejection of prejudiced attitudes, prejudice and discrimination have not been eliminated in society. From the subjectively benign telling of racist, sexist or homophobic jokes to incidents of physical harassment or violence based on race, gender or sexual orientation, preju- diced attitudes are still sometimes expressed and discriminatory behaviour enacted (e.g., Berill & Herek, 1990; Ford, 2000; Van de Ven, Kippax, Crawford, Race, & Rodden, 1998). Research has focused on trying to determine when such attitudes and behaviours will be expressed, and by whom (e.g., Blanchard et al., 1991; Gaertner & Dovidio, 1977; McConahay. 1986; Monteith et al., 1996). Blanchard et al. (1991) conducted two experiments in which they considered the role of the immediate social norm on expressions of racism. In their studies, participants were recruited by an experimenter to take part in an opinion poll focusing on reactions to racist incidents on campus. The exper- imenter read aloud a number of statements concerning possible reactions to these incidents and normative influence was manipulated by the participants hearing a confederate express

pro-racist or anti-racist sentiments.

ments included a neutral or control condition in which either no confederate was present (Experiment 2) or participants heard a confederate express neutral sentiments (Experiment 1). In addition, a number of other variables were manipulated across the two experiments (e.g., the number of influencing agents). The results of both studies indicated significant main effects for normative influence; however, these effects were inconsistent with each other. In the first study, participants

In addition, both experi-

Address for correspondence: Barbara Masser, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4072, Australia. Email:


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Norms and Prejudice in Opinion Expression


expressed significantly less racist sentiments after hearing a confederate express anti-racist attitudes, in comparison to either the neutral condition or the pro-racist condition. In contrast, in study two, participants expressed significantly more racist senti- ments after hearing a confederate express pro-racist attitudes in comparison to either the neutral condition or the anti-racist condition. Monteith et al. (1996) noted a number of problems in Blanchard et al.'s (1991) research, which called into question the reliability of their findings. Specifically, Monteith et al. (1996) noted that Blanchard et al. (1991) had unacceptably small cell sizes in their first experiment, encountered problems of ceiling effects in their favourable norm condition and used inconsistent control conditions across their two studies. In order to address these problems and to consider the role of individual personal standards with regard to prejudice, Monteith et al. (1996) conducted two studies to explore partic- ipants' expressions of homophobia (Experiment 1) or racism (Experiment 2). Similar to the method adopted by Blanchard et al. (1991), participants in these studies were approached by an experimenter and asked to take part in an opinion poll. The experimenter then approached the confederate and requested that they take part in the same poll. In response to the opinion questionnaire and as the manipulation of the social norm, participants heard the confederate express nonprejudiced or prejudiced ratings or give no ratings (control). Specifically, a number of nonprejudiced statements were read aloud and the confederate and the participant were asked to respond to the statements. In the nonprejudiced condi- tion, the confederate indicated strong agreement with the state- ments by giving either the most or the second most positive response to each statement. In the prejudiced condition, the confederate indicated strong disagreement with the state- ments by giving either the most or second most negative response to each statement. After hearing the confederate's response, the participant then responded to the same items either out loud (public condition) or on a questionnaire (private condition). Participants' prejudice towards members of the target group was measured through the Heterosexual Attitudes Towards Homosexuals scale, (Larsen, Reed, & Hoffman, 1980) in Study 1 and the Modem Racism Scale (McConahay, Hardee & Batts, 1981) in Study 2. These questionnaires were administered either before or after completion of the opinion poll. In each of the two studies, a significant main effect was obtained for the social norm manipulation. Participants who were exposed to the nonprejudiced social norm indicated significantly more positive opinions towards gay men (Study 1) and African Americans (Study 2) than participants exposed to the prejudiced social norm or those participants in the control condition. In both studies, the opinions of participants exposed to the prejudiced social norm did not differ signifi- cantly from the opinions expressed by the participants in the control conditions. In addition, in both studies a significant main effect was obtained for participants' prejudice levels. As participants' prejudice scores increased, so did the negativ- ity of their expressed opinions towards gay men (Study 1) and African Americans (Study 2). No significant effects were found with regard to the public or private expression of opin- ions in either study. In Study 2, a marginally significant two- way interaction was obtained between the social norm condition and participants' racism scores. Following trich- otomisation of participants' racism scores (so that participants were classified as being low, moderate or high in modern racism, McConahay et al., 1981), exploration of the interaction indicated that it was primarily driven by those lowest in preju- dice. Whilst participants at all levels of racism indicated

significantly less racist opinions when exposed to the nonracist norm in comparison to participants in the control condition, participants classified as moderate and high in racism did not express significantly more racist attitudes following exposure to the racist norm in comparison to moderate and high racist participants in the control condition. In contrast, those partici- pants classified as low in racism expressed significantly more nonracist attitudes when exposed to the racist social norm in comparison to participants low in racism in the control condi- tion. In short, whilst the establishment of a nonracist norm was sufficient to curb expressions of racism for all participants, the establishment of a racist social norm resulted in those low in racism expressing significantly more nonracist attitudes, and was not sufficient to induce those who indicated high or moderate levels of racist attitudes to express their prejudice. Research to date, considering the role of the social norm in prejudice expression, appears to have failed to consistently find an effect for a prejudiced social norm in encouraging prejudice expression, even amongst those who self-report having prejudiced attitudes. However, as Monteith et al. (1996) notes in reference to their study (and Blanchard et al.'s): "one might question whether the manipulation of the confederate's ratings actually served to activate social norms" (p. 284). Intuitively it seems hard to believe that the expressed opinions of one fellow participant, who is a stranger, would be sufficient to convince participants used to the societal social norm that "it is wrong to be prejudiced" that the social norm against prejudice expression had changed. In defence of their manipulation of social norms, Monteith et al. (1996) cite the research of Cialdini, Reno, and Kallgren (1990; Kallgren, Reno, & Cialdini, 2000) on social norms. Cialdini et al. (1990; Kallgren et al., 2000) differentiate between two types of social norms - injunctive norms (norms of what is commonly approved and disapproved of) and descriptive norms (norms of what is commonly done)- and highlight the importance of the salience of the social norm in guiding behaviour. In a series of studies considering litter- ing behaviour (e.g., Cialdini et al., 1990; Cialdini, Kallgren, & Reno, 1991; Kallgren et al., 2000), Cialdini and colleagues have consistently found that the actions of a single individual can affect the behaviour of others to the extent that the individ- ual's actions makes salient a descriptive or injunctive norm for appropriate behaviour. Cialdini and colleagues (e.g., Cialdini et al., 1991; Kallgren et al., 2000) state that salient injunctive norms are especially influential in impacting on others' behaviour. However, whilst the use of a single individual by Monteith et al. (1996) to communicate a social norm is consistent with Cialdini and colleagues' focus theory of normative conduct, Monteith et al. (1996) note a potential problem aside from using a single confederate with their studies that may explain the failure of the prejudiced social norm to impact upon the opinion ratings. Specifically, in their studies the presence of a single confederate expressing an opinion may have jointly activated, or made salient, descriptive and injunctive norms in the nonprejudiced condi- tion (by giving an example of what people actually do and simultaneously making salient the broad societal norm of "it is wrong to be prejudiced"), but only activated descriptive norms in the prejudiced norm condition.' As such, Monteith et al. (1996) note that their manipulation of the social norm used to communicate prejudiced and nonprejudiced norms may not have been equivalent. In addition, recent research by Terry and colleagues (e.g., Terry, Hogg, & White, 2000; Terry, Hogg, & Blackwood, 2001) and others (Fedaku & Kraft, 2002; Schofield, Pattison, Hill & Borland, 2001) exploring the importance of social identity and group memberships on attitude-behaviour

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186 Barbara Masser and Lisa Phillips

relations, has suggested that the origin of the salient norm may be an important determinant of its influence. Drawing on social identity theory and self-categorisation theory (Abrams & Hogg, 1990; Turner, 1991), research by Terry and colleagues suggests that when a social identity is salient, individuals will use social comparative information to construct a context specific social or group norm, and this norm will prescribe the appropriate attitudes and behaviours for group members. In a demonstration of the role of such a group norm, Terry and Hogg (1996, Study 2) found that group norms only affected intentions to engage in behaviour for those participants who strongly identified with the behaviourally relevant group. This suggests that in the context

of prejudice expression, individuals may look to the injunctive

norm emanating from a salient, important (to them) group to define the appropriate behaviour, rather than being concerned with broad societal norms for behaviour. Acknowledging the broad general social norm against preju- dice expression and the fact that in some circumstances preju- dice and discrimination are still expressed, the present study aimed, in a partial replication of Monteith et al. (1996, Study 1), to reconsider again how and by whom prejudiced opinions may come to be expressed. Given the problems encountered by Monteith et al. (1996) in their manipulation of norms for behaviour, the current study aimed to manipulate

normative influence by providing participants with salient proximal injunctive norms to guide their behaviour (e.g., Cialdini et al., 1990; Cialdini et al., 1991; Kallgren et al., 2000). In line with the work of Terry and colleagues (Terry et al., 2000; Terry et al., 2001) these norms, emanating from a salient, important (to the participants) group, should act to define the appropriate behaviour for the group members. Under these conditions, it was predicted that participants would express prejudiced opinions following the establishment

of a pro-prejudice

norm, and express nonprejudiced opinions

following the establishment of a nonprejudiced norm (in comparison a control "no norm" condition). In addition, and in line with Monteith et al. (1996), individuals' levels of preju- dice against the target group members (gay men) were assessed. It was predicted that participants higher in prejudice would express more prejudiced opinions than those partici- pants lower in prejudice. In addition, it was predicted that the impact of the social norm would vary as a function of an individual's prejudice level. Specifically, those participants higher in prejudice exposed to a pro-prejudice social norm would express more prejudiced attitudes than those partici- pants higher in prejudice in the control condition or in the nonprejudiced norm condition, or those participants lower in prejudice in the pro-prejudice norm condition.


Participantsand Design

One hundred and seven undergraduate students at a large Australian university (37 male, 70 female, Mge = 20.40 years) participated in the study for partial course credit. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three norm conditions (nonprejudiced norm, pro-prejudice norm and no norm) and, following Monteith et al. (1996), participants' prejudice towards gay men was measured either before or after the completion of the dependent measure. Following a median split on the responses to the prejudice scale, the study had

a 2 (prejudice level: higher or lower) x 3 (social norm:

nonprejudiced, pro-prejudice or no norm) between subjects design. The dependent measure was participants' mean agree- ment (or disagreement) with 10 statements focusing on issues affecting gay men.

Materials Participants completed five measures using 9-point Likert type scales, where I = strongly disagree and 9 = strongly agree. Higher scores indicated greater agreement with the statements.

Heterosexual Attitudes Towards Homosexuals Scale. (HATH; Larsen, Reed, & Hoffman, 1980). The HATH is a 20-item inventory comprised of statements concerning hetero- sexuals' attitudes towards homosexuals. An example item is: "homosexuals should not be allowed to work with children". Following recording of reverse worded items, higher scores reflected greater prejudice against homosexuals.

Salience manipulation. The salience of the relevant ingroup

was enhanced by asking participants to think of themselves as

a student at their university

have in common

Participants were also asked to give a brief description of what

and to list six attributes that they

with other students from that university.

makes them different from students from other universities.

Identification measure. The identification measure is a 6-item questionnaire comprised of positively worded statements concerning identification with being a student at their univer- sity. Example items, where X is the university in question, are "how much to you identify as being an X student?" and "how much do you feel like other X students". Higher scores reflected greater identification with being a student

at their university.

Social norm manipulation. Participants received a graphical representation of the results of a hypothetical study that showed the responses of other students at their university to 10 injunctive statements regarding gay men's rights in

society. The injunctive statements were a combination of pro-

gay and anti-gay statements

presented later to participants in the opinion poll. The graphs

showed either a generally favourable response from other students in terms of support of gay men's rights in society (e.g., 80% agreeing with the right of gay men to announce their sexuality) or a generally unfavourable response (e.g., with 80% disagreeing with the right of gay men to announce their

sexuality). Participants in the control condition did not receive

a social norm manipulation. Participants were asked to look

at the graph and to give a brief written interpretation of the

general trend of opinions towards

Opinion poll. The opinion poll was a 10-item measure comprised of statements regarding opinions to gay men's rights in society. A number of items were constructed from pilot work conducted prior to the main study and a number of items were adapted from Monteith et al. (1996) and Blanchard et al. (1991). Following Cialdini et al. (1990) the statements were also framed to be injunctive in nature. Example items included in the opinion poll are, "Gay men should be allowed to live in the same dorms as heterosexual men (e.g., in campus colleges, in military barracks etc.)" and "No restrictions should be placed on the types of organisations that gays are allowed to join on this campus" (cf. Marques, Abrams, & Serodio, 2001). Higher scores on this measure indicated more favourable opinions or attitudes towards gay men's rights in society.

and were the same statements

gay men's rights in society. 2

Procedure Participants were recruited to take part in a study focusing

on current issues within today's society. On arrival they were

told that a number of experimenters were

data collection time 3 and that they would complete a variety

of tasks. As either the first task or the last task of the session, participants were asked to complete a booklet of

sharing the

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Norms and Prejudice in Opinion Expression


questionnaires, ostensibly for a number of researchers. Included within this booklet was the HATH scale and the order of measures within the booklet was randomised. Following completion of a task unrelated to the current study, participants then completed the salience manipulation followed by the identification measure. Participants in the two experimental conditions were then presented with the social norm manipula- tion in the form of the data summary task. Following this, participants then completed the opinion poll regarding their opinions to the rights of gay men in society. Once participants had completed all of the measures they were questioned regard- ing their beliefs about the study. No participants indicated any suspicion regarding the social norm manipulation used within the current study. Following this, all participants were fully debriefed about the aim and purpose of the study.


Scores on the identification measure, prejudice measure and on the opinion ratings measure were reversed scored where neces- sary and averaged to give a score out of 9.

Identification Participants' scores were averaged, with higher scores indicat-

ing greater identification with being a student of the University (Cronbach's ax = .87). Identification scores ranged from 1.40

to 8.80 (M = 5.81, SD = 1.68) and the distribution was approx-

imately normal. Participants were classified as identifying with being a student of the University if their mean score was greater than 4.5. This resulted in 20 participants being excluded from further analyses. 4

Prejudice Scores Participants' scores were averaged, with higher scores indicat- ing greater levels of prejudice (Cronbach's a = .95). The HATH scores ranged from 1.00 to 8.55 (M = 2.73, SD = 1.53) and the distribution was positively skewed. The correlation between the identification measure and partici- pants' prejudice scores was not significant (r = .12, ns).

OpinionRatings Participants' ratings were averaged (Cronbach's ca = .80) with higher scores indicating more positive (or less preju- diced) opinions. The opinion rating scores ranged from 1.30 to 9.00 (M = 6.91, SD = 1.62) and the distribution was approximately normal.


Due to the skewed distribution of the prejudice scores,

a median split was undertaken to create a dichotomous

variable whereby participants were classified as being higher or lower in prejudice. The mean prejudice scores for these

two conditions differed significantly: Mhigh = 3.99 SD = 1.48;


across the experimental design varied between twelve and seventeen. A 2 (prejudice level: higher or lower) x 3 (condi- tion: anti-prejudice norm, pro-prejudice norm, no norm) between subjects ANOVA indicated a significant main effect of prejudice, F(1, 77) = 62.31, p <.001, and norm condition F(2, 77) = 3.43, p < .05. Participants lower in prejudice indicated more favourable opinions (M = 8.00, SD = 0.77) than participants higher in prejudice (M = 5.97, SD = 1.57) and participants in the pro-prejudice norm condition indicated more negative opinions (M = 6.54, SD = 2.12) than partici- pants in the anti-prejudice norm condition: M = 7.25, SD = 1.04; t(55) = 2.62, p < .05 or in the control condition M = 7.16, SD = 1.15; t(52) = 2.40, p < .05. In addition, the

Ml 0 , = 1.57, SD = 0.38; t(81) = 10.29, p < .0015 and cell

analyses revealed a significant two way interaction between prejudice level and norm condition, F(2, 77) = 6.63, p <.01. Simple effects analyses revealed that whilst the mean opinion rating did not differ by norm condition for those lower in prejudice, F(2, 77) = 0.34, ns, the mean opinion ratings differed by norm condition for those higher in prejudice, F(2, 77) = 10.83, p < .001. Those participants higher in preju- dice who were exposed to the pro-prejudice norm indicated significantly less positive (or more prejudiced) ratings on the opinion index (M = 4.96, SD = 1.79) than participants higher in prejudiced exposed to either the nonprejudiced norm:

M = 6.69, SD = 0.91; t(29) = 3.41, p < .05 or no norm:

M = 6.26, SD = 0.69; t(24) = 2.52, p < .05 (see Figure 1).

DISCUSSION The aim of the current research was to examine the influence of an injunctive norm that emanated from a salient group with whom the participants highly identified on participants' reported opinions concerning gay men. In addition, a second aim of the research was to determine whether this influence would differ as a function of participants' self-reported homophobic attitudes. The results indicated that those higher in prejudice who were exposed to a pro-prejudice norm ex- pressed significantly more prejudiced opinions than those higher in prejudice in the control (no norm) or nonprejudiced conditions. Those lower in prejudice expressed significantly less prejudiced opinions than those higher in prejudice, but this did not differ as a function of social norm. These findings suggest that the social context can be instru- mental in encouraging the expression of prejudice for certain individuals. Contrary to the findings of Monteith et al. (1996) the current study found that those who were comparatively higher in homophobia were willing to express more prejudiced opinions following the establishment of a pro-prejudice social norm than those exposed to either no norm or a nonprejudiced norm. Social norms within the current study were conceptu- alised and operationalised in terms of Cialdini et al.'s (1990) focal norm theory and social identity/self-categorisation theory (Abrams & Hogg, 1990; Turner, 1991). As such for both exper- imental conditions, the injunctive norm of a group with whom the participant identified was made salient (hence avoiding the alleged problem of incongruent societal level injunctive and immediate descriptive norms apparent in Monteith et al., 1996). Whilst the influence of identification with the group from which the norm emanated cannot be concluded upon (as it was not experimentally manipulated) it would seem consistent with literature in this area (Fedaku & Kraft, 2002; Schofield et al., 2001; Terry et al., 2000; Terry et al., 2001) to suggest that opinions originating from a salient important group would be seen as a more relevant representation of a social norm than opinions coming from a single confederate with whom the participant did not share a salient identity (as in Monteith et al., 1996 and Blanchard et al., 1991). In contrast to Monteith et al. (1996) within the current study there was no influence of the nonprejudiced social norm (in comparison to the control condition) on participants' expressed opinions. This may suggest that for those in the control (no norm) condition the broad social norm of "it is wrong to be prejudiced" that is viewed to exist within society (e.g., Brown, 1998; Tougas et al., 1995) is now sufficiently strong that it is perceived to be close to the reality presented to our participants in the "nonprejudiced" social norm manipu- lation. Future research specifically interested in the value of immediate social norms in suppressing prejudice expression should consider the strength of the nonprejudiced broad social norm in this aspect of their design.

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188 Barbara Masser and Lisa Phillips


















Lower prejudice

Higher prejudice

Prejudice level

E Nonprejudiced norm

D No norm o Pro prejudice norm

Figure I Mean opinion rating as a function of prejudice level and social norm. Note: Higher scores indicate more favourable opinions towards gay men.

In contrast to those higher in prejudice. the social norm manipulation had no significant impact upon those lower in prejudice. In the context of the current study it would appear that those lower in prejudice were resistant to the social norm, and instead drew on personal standards for their responses. Such a finding is consistent with Monteith, Devine, and Zuwerink (1993, see also Devine, Monteith, Zuwerink & Elliot, 1991; Devine, Plant, & Buswell, 2000) who argued and demonstrated that those lower in prejudice have inter- nalised personal standards that conflict with the expression of prejudice. For those lower in prejudice, prejudice expres- sion appears to be more related to their personal standards rather than salient social norms for appropriate behaviour. The results of the current study have gone some way to show how prejudice expression may come about in a society that generally has the broad social norm of "it is wrong to be prejudiced". Whilst not wanting to promote the expression of prejudice, the current research has shown that whilst those higher in prejudice have a greater tendency to express their opinions, this tendency can be aggravated by the perception of an injunctive norm for such behaviour within the immediate social situation. For those who have tendencies to be preju- diced, if they perceive that people who are important to them (e.g., friends and family) also think the way that they do, then they may be more likely to express that prejudice in the form of prejudiced opinions or at worst active discrimination. These results suggest that large scale campaigns or laws designed to eliminate prejudice against a variety of groups may have limited success in achieving their aims. For those groups who appear unaffected by such campaigns or laws, or who even "backlash" against such policies (Devine et al., 2000), it may be that they derive their norms for such behaviour from (important to them) salient reference groups. This suggests that in order to impact upon the expressions of prejudice and discrimination from these groups it would

be necessary to specifically target these groups and their norms rather than relying on broad social campaigns. A direction for future research is to consider the impact of social identity on the influence of norms within any given social situation. Terry et al.'s (2000) work suggests that

a norm emanating from a salient social group with whom

a person identifies will have the greatest impact on attitude-

behaviour congruency. Whilst this proposition was incorporated into the design of the current study, it was not experimentally tested. Future research should explore the role of social identity

in the context of prejudice expression. In addition, the relative

contributions of identification with the group from whom the norm emanates and the importance of the injunctive norm should be established. Additionally future research should consider the specificity of the measure of prejudiced attitudes. In line with Monteith et al. (1996), the current study used the HATH scale (Larsen et al., 1980), which assesses prejudice against homosexuals. yet the opinion index asked for participants' attitudes towards gay men. Whilst many people may equate the two terms ("homosexuals" and "gay men"), the former term theoretically includes lesbian women. As such the current study, as with Monteith et al. (1996), failed to assess attitudes and behaviour (or opinions) at the same level of specificity - a requirement of most of the basic models of attitude-behaviour relationships (e.g., Theory of Planned Behaviour; Ajzen, 1985).6 Finally, future research could also consider the impact of social identity and injunctive norms on prejudice expression within a sample with a higher base rate of prejudiced attitudes. University students tend, on average, to indicate comparatively less prejudiced attitudes than for example, samples drawn from the general population (e.g., Masser & Abrams, 1999). The impact of injunctive social norms and identification with the group from whom the norm emanates should be explored with participants from a population that espouses a fuller range of prejudiced attitudes. It may be that truly highly prejudiced

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individuals will, like the lower prejudiced participants in the current study, not be influenced by injunctive social norms. Their expressed opinions may be determined by their personal standards (that it is right to be prejudiced) rather than social norms. Alternatively, the presence of an injunctive social norm from a group with whom they identify may serve to further bolster their prejudiced attitudes and result in the expression of more extreme prejudiced attitudes or demonstrations of blatant discriminatory actions. Whilst the blatant expression of prejudice is now thankfully a rarer occurrence than perhaps it once was, due in part to the strong broad social norm that it is "wrong to be prejudiced", prejudice and discrimination have not been eliminated in society. Individuals are still verbally (e.g., Ford, 2000, Ford et al., 2001) and physically (e.g., Herek, 2000; Van de Ven et al., 1998) attacked due to their sexual orientation, gender or ethnic origin. Social psychological research has to date been unable to document the elements of given social situations that lead individuals to ignore or suppress the broad social norm, with previous research exploring the role of the social norm providing inconclusive results. The current study has address-

problems present in previous

ed a number of methodological

research in this area and has shown how prejudice expression may be seen as "the right thing to do" by certain individuals in specific situations. In short it seems that the prejudiced individual looks to his or her friends to see "what do other

people think" before expressing discriminatory attitudes or behaviour.



In terms of Monteith et al.'s (1996) explanation for their results it could be queried as to whether their norm manipulation actually served to make salient descriptive norms for behaviour. Traditionally within Cialdini and colleagues' work on norms, descriptive norms have been made salient by an individual or group of people engaging in a behaviour (e.g., littering) rather than merely expressing opinions about engaging in a behaviour. As such it may be that Monteith et al.'s (1996) results could be explained by the increased saliency of the broad injunctive social norm (against expressing prejudice) in the nonprejudiced norm condition and the absence of such a norm in the prejudiced norm condition. Unfortunately Monteith et al. (1996) provide no evidence to allow us to conclude on the saliency of broad social norms within their studies.


The data provided to participants as the social norm manipulation described a sample's reaction to a number of injunctive statements, thus providing a manipulation of injunctive norms in that the data showed "what is commonly approved and disapproved" of (Kallgren et al., 2000, p. 1002). As noted, traditional manipulations of descrip- tive norms have taken place by providing participants with examples of actual behaviour (e.g., littering). On this basis, for the current manipulation to be one of descriptive norms it was presumed that it would have been necessary to present participants with examples of "what is commonly done" (Kallgren et al., 2000, p. 1002). For example, that X% of participants had, for example, engaged in discriminatory behaviour against gay men. However, as noted by an anonymous reviewer, if Monteith et al.'s (1996) methods successfully manipulated descriptive norms, which can be queried (see Endnote 1), then the methods used in this study may also have inadvertently manipulated descriptive along with injunctive social norms. However, unlike Monteith et al. (1996), the norms used within the current study would have been equivalent. Specifically, given the presumed focus of participants on the norms emanating from a social group with whom they identified (rather than broad social norms), the norms in both the prejudiced and nonprejudiced conditions demonstrated evidence of what was commonly done (descriptive norms) in relation to injunctive statements demonstrating what was commonly approved and disapproved of.


In the university in which this study was completed, time sharing between experimenters is relatively common and participants did not regard this as unusual in the current study


Analyses were repeated including these 20 participants and did not change substantially. Whilst this could be interpreted as evidence that identification is irrelevant in this context, a full test of this experimen- tal hypothesis using high and low identifiers would be necessary to either fully accept or refute that proposition.

5 Different opinions exist within the research literature regarding the best procedure for the evaluation of moderator variables (e.g., Aiken

& West, 1991). Median split data is presented in the main text reflect- ing reporting practices demonstrated by other researchers investigat- ing prejudice where the key variable has a skewed distribution (e.g., Lepore & Brown, 1997). However, all analyses were repeated using hierarchical regression following a log transformation of the prejudice scores and dummy coding of the conditions. These analyses revealed identical results to the main analyses with a main effect for prejudice ( =-.83, t = -15.58, p < .001) and a significant two way interaction between prejudice and one of the dummy coded condition


results to those obtained

with ANOVA.

6 We are grateful to an anonymous reviewer for making this suggestion.


=-.38, t

= -2.31, p < .03). Follow-up analyses of the

two way

interaction revealed identical


The authors would like to thank Dominic Abrams and two

anonymous reviewers of this paper

for their feedback on an earlier draft


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