People both high and low on religious fundamentalism are prejudiced towards dissimilar groups

M.J. Brandt, D.R. van Tongeren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


[Correction Notice: An Erratum for this article was reported in Vol 112(1) of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (see record 2016-61714-004).
In the article, the sample size of N = 5,806 in the abstract is incorrect. The correct sample size is N = 6,047.] Research linking religion to prejudice suggests that highly religious individuals, and religious fundamentalists specifically, may be especially susceptible to expressing prejudice toward dissimilar others, whereas people who are less religious and fundamentalist do not show the same effect. The selective prejudice hypothesis predicts that this pattern of results occurs because the cognitive and motivational styles or particular values associated with fundamentalism exacerbate prejudice. In 3 studies, using 4 data sets (N = 5,806), we test this selective prejudice hypothesis against the religious values conflict hypothesis, which predicts that both people with high and low levels of fundamentalism will be prejudiced toward those with dissimilar beliefs to protect the validity and vitality of people’s belief systems. Consistent with the religious values conflict hypothesis, we found that people both high and low in fundamentalism were prejudiced toward dissimilar others (Study 1) and these differences were primarily due to differences in the content of religious belief rather than the style of belief (Study 2). In Study 3, we expanded these findings to additional measures of prejudice, found that multiple measures of threat were potential mediators, and explored the possibility of an integrative perspective. In total, these results suggest that people with both relatively high and low levels of fundamentalism are susceptible to prejudice and in some cases the size of this religious intergroup bias may be higher among people with high levels of fundamentalism. (
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-97
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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