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Abstract thinking increases support for affirmative action

Fleischmann, Alexandra, Burgmer, Pascal (2020) Abstract thinking increases support for affirmative action. Sex Roles, 82 . pp. 493-511. ISSN 0360-0025. (doi:10.1007/s11199-019-01068-2) (KAR id:74539)

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Affirmative action is the proactive process of using resources to ensure that people are not discriminated against based on their group membership, such as gender or ethnicity. It is an effective way to reduce discrimination, but attitudes toward affirmative action are often negative, especially in groups implementing affirmative action. Previous research identified different influences on attitudes toward affirmative action, but mainly unchangeable ones. We focus on the influence of abstract thinking on support for affirmative action because abstract thinking is a changeable characteristic that can direct attention to the purpose of affirmative action policies. Across five studies with U.S. MTurk workers—focusing on women as the target group, but including other target groups as well—we show that thinking abstractly improves attitudes toward affirmative action. We observe this effect using correlational (Study 1, n = 251) and experimental (Studies 2–5, ns = 201–515) designs. Additionally, we test whether perceived discrimination increases the impact of abstract thinking on attitudes toward affirmation action (Studies 2–5). We report a meta-analysis across our studies. Overall, thinking abstractly about affirmative action clearly leads to more favorable attitudes toward it, and this effect is somewhat stronger when discrimination is perceived to be high. Consequently, companies and policymakers that would like to increase support for affirmative action policies could use abstract thinking to do so, for example by encouraging employees to think about and discuss why (vs. how) affirmative action policies are implemented.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s11199-019-01068-2
Uncontrolled keywords: affirmative action; sex discrimination; abstraction; thinking; cognitive processes; construal level; quotas; gender
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Pascal Burgmer
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2019 23:01 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Burgmer, Pascal:
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