Benevolent prejudice

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Benevolent prejudice is a superficially positive prejudice that is expressed in terms of positive beliefs and emotional responses, which are associated with hostile prejudices or result in keeping affected groups in inferior positions in society.


Benevolent prejudice is a superficially positive type of prejudice that is expressed in terms of apparently positive beliefs and emotional responses. Though this type of prejudice associates supposedly good things with certain groups, it still has the result of keeping the group members in inferior positions in society.[1] Benevolent prejudices can help justify any hostile prejudices a person has toward a particular group.[2] It is defined by UK [[LGBT rights charity Stonewall as "expressions of positive views about minority groups that are not intended to demonstrate less positive attitudes towards them, but which may still produce negative consequences".[3]

Evidence also shows that there is a correlation between benevolent prejudices and hostile prejudices towards a particular group, in particular regarding the issue of benevolent prejudice towards women and misogyny.[4]


White Americans and African Americans[edit]

In an experiment run by Judd, Park, Ryan, Brauer, and Kraus (1995),[5] perceptions of African Americans held by White Americans show that they held hostile beliefs indicating that they viewed African Americans as hostile, cliquish, irresponsible, and loud. However, the same White American participants held benevolent beliefs that African Americans were athletic, musical, religious, and had strong family ties. The study was also done with African American participants who were asked to share their beliefs about White Americans. The African Americans said that White Americans were self-centered, greedy, stuffy/uptight, and sheltered from the real world. However, the same African Americans held benevolent beliefs that White Americans were intelligent, organized, independent, and financially well-off.[5]

LGBT and disabled people[edit]

A Stonewall UK publication (Understanding Prejudice: Attitudes towards minorities) published in 2004 has found that interviewees used benevolent stereotyping of gay men as "fun" and "caring stereotypes" of disabled individuals, saying they were "vulnerable and in need of protection". This was seen as contrasting to the negative prejudices of Romani people, Irish Travellers (both categorized in the survey as "Gypsies") and asylum seekers who were often the subject of aggressive prejudice.[3] The survey also stated that:

These stereotypes are not intended to demonstrate a less positive attitude towards these groups, but lesbians, gay men or disabled people can experience these views as negative and discriminatory. This benevolent prejudice demonstrates a lack of understanding of what being disabled or lesbian and gay can mean; a lack of awareness of the more serious discrimination that these groups often experience; and the changing expectations and rights of these minority groups. Other research has suggested that these benevolent attitudes can play an important role in the social exclusion of particular groups, for example because labels like "nice", "kind" and "helpless" can define some minority groups as not competent or suitable for powerful positions.[3]

The survey also showed that men were more likely to exhibit aggressive prejudice, whereas women were more likely to exhibit benevolent prejudice.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitley, Bernard E.; Kite, Mary E. (2010). The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-495-81128-2.[page needed]
  2. ^ Monin, Benoît; Miller, Dale T. (2001). "Moral credentials and the expression of prejudice". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 81 (1): 33–43. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.81.1.33. PMID 11474723.
  3. ^ a b c d "Understanding Prejudice: Attitudes towards minorities" (PDF). Stonewall (charity). 2004. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  4. ^ Bernard Whitley; Mary Kite (12 February 2009). The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination. Cengage Learning. p. 225. ISBN 0-495-81128-9.
  5. ^ a b Judd, Charles M.; Park, Bernadette; Ryan, Carey S.; Brauer, Markus; Kraus, Susan (1995). "Stereotypes and ethnocentrism: Diverging interethnic perceptions of African American and White American youth". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 69 (3): 460–81. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.69.3.460. PMID 7562391.

Further reading[edit]

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