Skip to main content

Equality hypocrisy, inconsistency, and prejudice: The unequal application of the universal human right to equality

Abrams, Dominic, Houston, Diane M., Van de Vyver, Julie, Vasiljevic, Milica (2015) Equality hypocrisy, inconsistency, and prejudice: The unequal application of the universal human right to equality. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 21 (1). pp. 28-46. ISSN 1078-1919. E-ISSN 1532-7949. (doi:10.1037/pac0000084) (KAR id:52427)

PDF Publisher pdf
Language: English

Download (569kB) Preview
[thumbnail of Equality Hypocrisy Inconsistency and prejudice.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL


In addition, the author note should have included a license statement, which is provided in this correction.] In Western culture, there appears to be widespread endorsement of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which stresses equality and freedom). But do people really apply their equality values equally, or are their principles and application systematically discrepant, resulting in equality hypocrisy? The present study, conducted with a representative national sample of adults in the United Kingdom (N = 2,895), provides the first societal test of whether people apply their value of “equality for all” similarly across multiple types of status minority (women, disabled people, people aged over 70, Blacks, Muslims, and gay people). Drawing on theories of intergroup relations and stereotyping we examined, relation to each of these groups, respondents’ judgments of how important it is to satisfy their particular wishes, whether there should be greater or reduced equality of employment opportunities, and feelings of social distance. The data revealed a clear gap between general equality values and responses to these specific measures. Respondents prioritized equality more for “paternalized” groups (targets of benevolent prejudice: women, disabled, over 70) than others (Black people, Muslims, and homosexual people), demonstrating significant inconsistency. Respondents who valued equality more, or who expressed higher internal or external motivation to control prejudice, showed greater consistency in applying equality. However, even respondents who valued equality highly showed significant divergence in their responses to paternalized versus nonpaternalized groups, revealing a degree of hypocrisy. Implications for strategies to promote equality and challenge prejudice are discussed.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1037/pac0000084
Additional information: Special Issue: Psychologies of Human Rights.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Sian Epps
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2015 12:28 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:30 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Abrams, Dominic:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year