Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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Research on religion and prejudice has mostly been limited to Western Christian participants and beliefs. Evidence, overall, favors the idea of a religion-prejudice link. Does this also hold for East Asian religions, usually perceived as tolerant, and cultures, characterized by holistic thinking and tolerance of contradictions? We review here four recent studies and provide meta-analytic estimation of the East Asian interreligious prejudice. East Asian religiosity was associated with low explicit prejudice against religious outgroups in general (Study 1; adults from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan) and three specific religious outgroups, i.e. Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but not atheists (Study 2; Taiwanese students), and low implicit prejudice against ethnic (Africans) and religious (Muslims) outgroups (Study 3; Taiwanese students). The mean effect size of the East Asian religious (low) prejudice was r = -.21. Moreover, Westerners from a Christian background primed with Buddhist pictures showed higher prosociality and, those valuing universalism, lower ethnic prejudice compared to the control, no pictures, condition (Study 4). Thus, the general idea that religion promotes prejudice lacks cross-cultural sensitivity: East Asian religion seems to be followed by low prejudice with regard to many, though not all, kinds of outgroups.

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