Personal, Prejudice, and the Person-Centred Approach Essay

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The study under question aimed to find the correlation between the Big Five personality factors and prejudice within the variable-centered and person-centered paradigms, giving more emphasis on the latter as there is no apparent conclusive evidence that could concretize the relationship between the Big Five and prejudice. Under the variable-centered approach, it is believed that if personality precedes prejudice then the Big Five Personality factors could possibly predict a person’s inclination towards prejudicial attitudes.

The hypothesis of the paper, therefore, is to find whether there is a direct relationship between prejudice and the Big Five Personality Factors in reference to the person-centered and variable-centered approach. Method The study was conducted among 79 male and 77 female non-psychology students who came from various disciplines such as behavioral science, economics, technology, and social science with a total sample size of 156.

As compensation, the participants received free cinema vouchers. Uppsala University and a local-authority administered adult education were selected as the locale of the study. Two types of instruments and variables were used namely: Personality and Prejudice instruments. To cover the Big Five Personality Factors an official Swedish translation of the test was used.

Four scales were adapted to measure prejudice among the participants namely a) The Modern and Classical Racial Prejudice Scales—constructed to measure modern racial or ethnic prejudice in Scandinavian setting, b) The Swedish Modern and Classical Sexism Scales—constructed by Ekehammar, Akrami, and Araya in 2000, this scale was developed to measure prejudice against women, c) The Modern and Classical Attitudes toward Intellectually Disabled Individuals Scales—composed of 11 items, this scale was formulated to measure prejudice against people with mental disabilities and d) The Attitude to Homosexuality Scale—the scale is specifically targeted to measure prejudice against homosexuals including lesbians and gay men.

The study was basically computer-based and participants were asked to respond to randomly arranged test items. Answers were stored, filed and computed for scores right after the test was finished. The five-step Likert type scales were used (1 being the strongly disagree response and 5 being the strongly agree response). The average response was taken; higher scores on the prejudice domain mean that the participant has higher scores on prejudice. For the computation of scores, the Cronbach alpha Coefficients, a more recent version of the Kuder-Richardson Formula 20 and the Guttman Formula in order to establish the reliability of the scales used and the pair-wise correlations (r).

In order to carry out the untraditional person-centred approach, cluster analyses were performed using a number of clusters with participants having similar profiles across the five domains of the Big Five Model in relation to the external variable—prejudice. This study is a pioneer as there are no similar studies which made use of the person-centered approach. Results and Discussion Unlike the variable-centred approach which was tested on a number of occasions already, the person-centred approach, according to the results of the study, have little to no predictive power when it comes to identifying people who have generalized prejudice. In fact in this particular study, the predictive power of the person-centered approach diminished below the level first identified by Costa, Herbst, McCrae, Samuels, and Ozer (cited by Ekehammar, Akrami, 2003).

According to the computations, there are high inter-correlations and high statistical significance among the variables with the exemption of Classical Attitudes Towards Disabled Persons Scale. The highest correlation coefficient was obtained when modern racial prejudice and modern sexism were compared while the lowest correlation is with that of classical racial prejudice and attitudes towards homosexuality. Among the Big Five Personality Factors, only the Openness to Experience and Agreeableness displayed statistically significant negative correlation when compared to the prejudice scales in variable-centered approach. This implies that a person scoring low on these factors are less likely to be prejudiced towards other people.

On the other hand, the person-centered approach yielded the following ranking—the overcontrolled personality type is the most likely to display generalized prejudice, resilient personality settling in the middle and the undercontrolled personality type having the least possibility of displaying generalized prejudice. In general, the study shows that the variable-centred approach has more predictive power towards identifying people who have higher generalized prejudice in relation to the Big Five Personality Factors. Critique On a positive note, the research made use of the Big Five Personality Factors which is a relatively popular and accepted measure of personality types.

However, like all personality tests, the domains being measured are limited, in this case the Big Five is restricted to measuring only five broad domains namely Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness . These five traits that were selected under the pretext of their relationship to the word “personality” in the natural language. According to Goldberg (1981), the dictionaries of natural language provide a good pool of traits that could be associated with the word “personality”, however the only set back is that it is limited. Nonetheless, the Five Factor Model is recognized to be one of the most comprehensive models for studying personality traits (John, Srivastava, 1999).

Further, it has a long history of validation since perhaps 1936 with the pioneering work of Allport and Odbert (1936, cited by John and Srivastava, 1999). Another positive aspect of the study is the use of the combination of scales fitted to the Scandinavian setting to measure prejudice variables, obviously done to cover as much variables as possible. However, while the scales included factors such as attitude towards homosexuality, racism, sexism and disability, the study fails to include other equally significant components of prejudice such as age and religion. If included, these variables may provide more enlightening results useful for understanding the personality types of people who have prejudicial attitudes.

When studied from the person-centred approach being the second main variable, this study only confirmed that the said approach has little predictive capacity to identify prejudice level in relation to the Big Five Factors, thus proving that the variable-centered approach is still the more effective approach. But is this a question of approaches only or were there natural limitations to the person-centred approach that makes it less effective? As indicated in the last part of the paper, it may be due to the natural limitations of the approach. Results varied depending on the treatment of the data but they consistently showed that person-centred approach is not as effective in predicting the prejudicial attitude of a person. The researchers already tried to adjust the variables but still, the results remained constant—the person-centred approach still has little predictive value.

But this is not reason enough to dismiss the use of the approach in further researchers. There may also be another loop hole to this study—the scales used. Since they were adapted and assorted to complete items on the test administered to the participants, validity and reliability may have been lost. On many occasions, the internal consistency and validity of the test changes when one or two of the items were changed. As we all know, items on a standardized tests were fitted perfectly together to satisfy a certain level of validity and reliability. But once changes were imposed, say the arrangement of the items is changed, then validity and reliability may also change.

But this is just an assumption since there is no way to validate whether or not validity and reliability of the test were really slightly changed due to combining different items from different scales together. Nonetheless, there were no discussions in the paper on whether or not the validity and reliability of the test used were established. Further, there may be a problem on the number of participants as they may not have represented the entire population well. Again, there were no explanations on the paper on how exactly the number of the participants was extracted. As we all know, the participants, themselves, dictate the results of any studies as they are the primary source of data.

Nothing can be said about the tools of measurements used though because the researchers have apparently chosen sound and well-established tools namely Cronbach alpha Coefficients and pair wise correlations (r). Also, the researchers further analyzed the data using linear multiple regression analysis (MRA) to obtain useful information. Relationship of the Study to The Personality Theory Researchers have long suspected the relationship between one’s personality and prejudice. Some say that certain personality characteristics are more likely to have prejudicial attitudes towards other people while some personality characteristics are more prone to prejudice.

For example, authoritarianism, a characteristic of the personality which adheres to “unquestioned acceptance” of the respect of one’s authority, tends to gather prejudicial reactions from people who are interacting with an authoritarian (Bodens, Horowitz, 2001). This subject on authoritarianism is cited on the paper as Right-Wing Authoritarianism which covers three attributes— Authoritarian Submission, Authoritarian Aggression and Conventionalism. The Right-Wing Authoritarianism provides an explanation why some people are more inclined to be prejudiced to certain people than others. Within the personality psychology, RWA has received a great deal of attention and studies (Montada, Lerner, 1998).

Some psychologists also believe that Right-Wing Authoritarianism has a predictive capacity to identify individual differences in the behaviors of people towards common subjects of prejudice such as race or minorities. Another issue is gender. Research has been done to see which between the male and female population are more prejudiced towards homosexuality. According to the results obtained, males are, in general, more prejudiced towards homosexuals (Kite and Whitley, 1998 cited by Bodens, Horowitz, 2001). At the outset, people who are identifiably different are more subjected to prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. But what does the personality psychology say about this? This critique will be seen from the following perspectives—Alfred Adler’s notions of Masculine Protest and Striving for Superiority (cited by Boeree, 2006).

In most cultures, in fact in the majority of cultures around the world, men are viewed as stronger, more competitive, aggressive and in control in sharp comparison to women’s femininity. However, somewhere along the sexual development of the person is the sexual identity confusion. People undergoing this phase will have relatively difficult struggles with their sexual identity. Both Freudian and Jungian psychologies believe that humans are by nature, bisexual. This bisexuality is more pronounced in some people though, resulting to feminine attributes in males and masculine attributes in females. The point is once these irregular attributes goes to the surface, people experiencing them will have to also experience the conflicting nature of themselves and the society.

Thus, some people who are not comfortable with such irregularities find good reasons to become prejudiced to people who are homosexuals, gay and lesbians. Homosexuality also causes strain among people affiliated to certain religions, more specifically Judeo-Christian religions. When seen from this perspective, homosexuality is no longer an irregularity of the conflicting nature of man but it has already become a sin, a sickness of the soul. And men have a certain natural tendency to repulse anything sick, in this case deviation from the natural sexes (Naylor, 1998). However, unlike most subjects of prejudice, homosexuality is not defined by race, by religion, by the color of the skin, and by the socioeconomic status. It occurs in all groupings of the society and the subsequent subgroups.

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