Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 18 Issue 6 (November/December 2008), Pages 527-646

Attitudes toward Out‐groups and the perception of consensus: All feet do not wear one shoe (pages 543-557)


Although social perception research has been carried out across a number of diverse domains, to the best of our knowledge, studies have not directly assessed the relationship between attitudes toward the out‐group and perceptions of community support for those attitudes. In the present research, we report the findings of a study conducted in Western Australia using data collected from 653 participants from three different locations. The main thrust of our study was the accuracy of beliefs about consensus as it related to attitudes toward two marginalized groups: Indigenous Australians and asylum seekers. With respect to their attitudes toward these two groups, our respondents were placed in seven categories corresponding to their responses to our seven point attitude scales. Three main findings emerged. First, respondents at all seven levels overestimated community support for their views with respect to both Indigenous Australians and asylum seekers. Second, as respondents in both groups became more rejecting, their estimates of community support progressively increased in a linear fashion. Third, respondents in the more negative categories were significantly less accurate in their estimates than those in the more positive categories. How these findings might contribute to programmes designed to reduce prejudice is discussed. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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