Testing the theory of cultural inertia: How majority members’ perceptions of culture change relate to prejudice

Katharina Lefringhausen, Nali Moftizadeh, Hanna Zagefka, Emine Bilgen, Ravinder Barn

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Abstract

This paper presents two studies which address an underdeveloped area within acculturation research: majority members’ perceptions of cultural change. Specifically, drawing on the theory of cultural inertia, we explored how majority members react to perceptions of recent majority culture and minority cultures change. A path model was hypothesised whereby British and English majority members’ perceptions that their British (Study 1, N = 266) and English (Study 2, N = 292) cultures are changing due to the presence of minority cultures was positively associated with symbolic threat, and through this with greater prejudice towards minorities living in the UK/England. However, participants’ perceptions that minority cultures are changing due to influence from the majority culture were negatively associated with symbolic threat, and through this with less prejudice towards minorities. These findings were supported across different operationalizations of prejudice (i.e., social distance and positive/negative affect) and even when controlling for another recently introduced concept of meta-perceptions – that is, majority members’ perceptions of whether minority members prefer majority members to maintain their culture and/or adopt to the minority cultures. Findings call for a greater focus on studying the intergroup consequences of majority members’ perceptions of cultural change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-241
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Volume91
Early online date21 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Acculturation
  • Cultural change
  • Cultural inertia
  • Intergroup relations
  • Symbolic threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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