Journal of International and Global Studies


This study investigates the root causes of outgroup prejudice. The literature explains prejudice primarily as a result of the perception of threat or the lack of optimal intergroup contact. The literature also emphasizes that individuals who are prejudiced against one outgroup are more likely to be prejudiced against other outgroups as well. This study does not react to these established theories. Instead, it argues from an evolutionary social psychological perspective that the root cause of outgroup prejudice is an activated sense of distrust and caution. In ancestral environments, higher levels of distrust and caution helped humans better protect themselves and their offspring from outside dangers, especially that posed by other humans. Prejudice is thus a function of this general protective outlook rather than a function of the particular characteristics of outgroups. To test this hypothesis, the paper specifies six multilevel regression models and analyzes the factors that lead to prejudice against six salient minority groups: immigrants, Muslims, Jews, homosexuals, the Roma, and the people of different races. Data come primarily from the latest wave of the European Values Study, covering 43 European countries. In all six cases of outgroup prejudice, findings indicate a strong and consistent support for the proposed theoretical perspective.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.