Attitudes towards In-Groups and Out-Groups in South African Ethnic Groups: The Role of Essentialism and Universal-Diverse Orientation



Long after the Apartheid era in South Africa, the segregation of ethnic-cultural groups remains an issue. This study’s objective is to assess the impact of one’s ethnic group on the attitudes towards the ethnic in-group and out-groups, and the moderating effect of essentialism and universal-diverse orientation.

The authors chose a cross-sectional quantitative design and surveyed a homogeneous South African sample, aged 17 years or older. Participants responded to the Essentialist Entitativity Scale, the Milville-Guzman Universality-Diversity Scale, and a Self-Constructed Attitude Scale, either in a paper-wise or via an online version of the questionnaire.

We performed a multivariate analysis of variance and concluded that although the effect of belonging to a particular ethnic-cultural group on attitudes towards in-group and out-groups is significant, its magnitude is minimal. Regarding essentialism and universal-diverse orientation, we found that in-group favouritism and out-group derogation are particularly – or even exclusively – present among those of high essentialist thinking and low in cultural open-mindedness.

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