Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 4 Issue 1 (March 1974), Pages 1-93

Sermons on Racial Tolerance and the Parish Neighborhood Context (pages 1-23)

A study was conducted concerning racial attitudes of a group of white, Roman Catholic residents of a large midwestern city interviewed before and after they heard two sermons opposing raeial injustice and segregation. There was no significant relationship between presermon and postsermon change in a parishioner's attitude toward racial integration and the prointegration intensity of the sermons he heard. However, variation in the prointegration intensity of sermons delivered in a parish was closely related to the socioeconomic status of the parishioners, suggesting that the priests’perception of parish norms may have influenced the contents of the sermons.

The needs or functions that segregationist attitudes may serve were considered. The 3 strongest of 14 correlates of segregationist attitudes investigated in this study were (a) belief that racial integration leads to neighborhood deterioration, (b) authoritarian aggression, and (c) perception of neighbors’attitudes toward integration. These three correlates appear to reflect object appraisal needs, externalization of inner conflict needs, and social adjustment needs, respectively.

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