Reporting on prejudice and crime

Ella Rhodes reports.

University of Kent psychologists have published two research reports on hate crimes and prejudice in the UK for the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The work led by Professor Dominic Abrams, Hannah Swift and Lynsey Mahmood looks at the broad state of hate crime and other law-breaking behaviours that happen due to prejudice.

The organisation commissioned the research to examine social categorisation and prejudice, while also looking into the link between prejudice and particular crimes. The researchers examined 228 pieces of evidence, which included 24 evaluations of interventions, and found little evidence linking individuals’ prejudice with particular acts of unlawful behaviour.

However, the group did find some interesting connections outlined in their two reports, entitled Prejudice and Unlawful Behaviour: Exploring Levers for Change and Causes and Motivations of Hate Crime. They saw that disability discrimination can be driven by over-simplistic categorisation and patronising stereotypes. There was also some evidence of less prejudice towards black and Asian people compared with Eastern European people.

Muslims, the psychologists saw, are the most targeted group for prejudiced attitudes linked with perceived threat. Stereotypes related to age can be damaging to older people who are treated in a patronising way, affecting the way they see themselves and their ability to do some things. Overall the group saw attitudes towards women appearing to be positive, but suggest this may mask benevolent or patronising forms of prejudice. Happily, attitudes towards same-sex relationships and marriage have become more positive over time. 

The two reports can be found at tinyurl.com/jr3r8zd and tinyurl.com/hmj6no4

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