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Modern prejudice and strength of conjunction error: Overestimating proportions of minority employees

Hans-Joachim Wolfram (Kingston Business School, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 19 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Modern prejudice was examined as a potential predictor of overestimating proportions of minority employees in gender-typed occupations. Strength of conjunction error was considered as an indicator of distorted perceptions of these proportions. Furthermore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate whether the association between modern prejudice and strength of conjunction error was weaker for gender-untypical than for gender-typical targets.

Design/methodology/approach

Modern prejudice was considered as a predictor of overestimations of black female employees in Study 1 (n=183) and black female older employees in Study 2 (n=409). Data were collected using internet-mediated questionnaires.

Findings

In Study 1, modern racism, but not modern sexism, was associated with greater strength of conjunction error when respondents were presented with gender-typical targets. In Study 2, using a sample scoring higher on modern prejudice than in Study 1, modern racism, but not modern sexism and modern ageism, was associated with greater strength of conjunction error, irrespective of target occupation. Furthermore, there was an unexpected association between lower sexism and greater strength of conjunction error for gender-typical targets, but not for gender-untypical targets.

Research limitations/implications

The findings lend support to the ethnic-prominence hypothesis in that modern racism, but not modern sexism or modern ageism, was associated with greater strength of conjunction error. Furthermore, empirical evidence suggests that target non-prototypicality can dilute the effect of modern prejudice on strength of conjunction error.

Originality/value

This is one of the rare studies examining attitudes and conjunction error in a work-relevant context, thereby bridging the gap between social cognition and applied psychology.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author is grateful to Hartmut Blank for helpful discussions. The author declares that there are no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this paper. This research was supported by the Faculty of Business and Law at Kingston University.

Citation

Wolfram, H.-J. (2017), "Modern prejudice and strength of conjunction error: Overestimating proportions of minority employees", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 417-436. https://doi.org/10.1108/EDI-03-2017-0056

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited