The protestant work ethic: a lay theory with dual intergroup implications
The authors propose that, in the US, the Protestant work ethic (PWE) relates both to social tolerance and intolerance. PWE is proposed to have a surface meaning that relates to social tolerance, and also an associated meaning that relates to intolerance, which is acquired in part through social and cultural experience (e.g. PWE being used as a justifier of inequality). In correlational and experimental studies, PWE was related to greater egalitarianism and desired social closeness to African Americans among younger participants (9 to 12 and 14 to 16-year-olds) relative to older participants (college students). Subsequent experiments directly manipulated college students’ interpretations of PWE, showing that those experimentally led to focus on others' use of PWE in support of their arguments (associated meaning condition) endorsed egalitarianism to a lesser extent (Study 3) and donated less money to a homeless shelter (Study 4) than did those simply focusing on the definition of PWE (definition condition). In contrast to these findings, the authors showed that social dominance orientation has a unitary relation to social intolerance across the three age groups studied (Study 1). The implications of these findings and future work on the duality of lay theories are discussed.
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