Psychoeconomic approaches to the study of hostile attitudes toward minority groups: A study among Israeli jews

Eran Halperin*, Ami Pedahzur, Daphna Canetti-Nisim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective. We aspired to reexamine the well-established assumption according to which low socioeconomic status, as a comprehensive concept, leads to prejudice and hostile attitudes toward minorities. Hence, we focused on examining the differential effect of each component of SES on one of the most important behavioral aspects of hostile attitudes - social distance. Just as importantly, we examined the assumption according to which threat perception mediates the influence of SES factors on those attitudes. Methods. In field research that took place in Israel in May 2003, attitudes of 383 participants toward three distinct minority groups were tested according to their ascription to four different "economic status" groups. Results. Contrary to most previous findings, we found that employment status and relative income have very little influence on social distance toward minorities. On the other hand, we found that level of education has a significant effect on social distance and that this effect is mostly mediated by the perception of cultural and economic threat. Conclusions. The subjective perception of threat was found to be a critical mediating "junction" in the evolutionary process of the influence of socioeconomic factors on hostile attitudes. Therefore, only specific SES components that influence the perception of threat have an effect on hostile attitudes toward minorities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)177-198
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


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