Article

The moral dimension of children's and adolescents' conceptualisation of tolerance to human diversity

Journal of Moral Education (Impact Factor: 0.69). 12/2007; 36:433-451. DOI: 10.1080/03057240701688002

ABSTRACT This study examined the kinds of justifications children and adolescents used to support tolerant and intolerant judgements about human diversity. For the tolerant responses, three main belief categories emerged, based on the beliefs that others should be treated fairly (fairness), empathetically (empathy) and that reason/logic ought to govern judgements (reasonableness). Fairness emerged as the most used belief to support tolerant judgements and the most commonly used combination of beliefs was found to be fairness/empathy, linking tolerance to moral reasoning, rules and values. Specifically noticeable was that 6–7‐year‐olds appealed to fairness more often in comparison to the 11–12 and 15–16‐year‐olds. Older students used a larger repertoire of beliefs to support tolerance, indicating developing cognitive maturity. There was also a tendency for females to appeal to fairness/empathy more often than males. The major constraint to positive tolerance was not prejudice toward the target groups but the adolescents' beliefs in freedom of speech as a democratic right, pointing to a conflict in values between tolerance and other human rights.

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Available from: Rivka T Witenberg, Aug 14, 2015
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    • "Finally, the view that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, at times termed anti-political correctness (Nelson et al., 2010), is a potential obstacle to bystander action. While there has been little research on this issue, freedom of speech is often used as a rationale for bystander inaction (Witenberg, 2007). "
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    • "Finally, the view that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, at times termed anti-political correctness (Nelson et al., 2010), is a potential obstacle to bystander action. While there has been little research on this issue, freedom of speech is often used as a rationale for bystander inaction (Witenberg, 2007). "
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    • "Possibly, some empathic individuals had mixed responses to the holding of intolerant beliefs due to the perception that beliefs are not as harmful as the other overt forms of intolerance. Even pro-social people can feel that others have the right to think what they want (Witenberg, 2007). Indeed, the correlation between empathic concern and tolerance for the belief dimension was lower than the correlations between empathic concern and tolerance for the other two dimensions, indicating a weaker association between empathic concern and the rejection of intolerant beliefs. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine the most salient predictors of tolerance to human diversity. A total of 118 individuals (M = 32.93 years, standard deviation = 13.80) responded to dilemma‐like stories involving holding prejudicial beliefs (beliefs), talking about them (speech) and acting on them (acts). Participants also completed the openness and agreeableness scales from the Big Five Inventory and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index. Differences in tolerance judgements were found to be related to differences in personality characteristics. Results showed that openness and agreeableness were predictors of tolerance in the belief dimension, whereas the most salient predictor of tolerance in the speech and act dimensions was empathic concern, which also mediated the relationships between agreeableness and tolerance for these dimensions. These findings are not unexpected because holding intolerant beliefs is inconsistent with having an open mind, and intolerant speech and actions are inconsistent with pro‐social behaviour, of which tolerance is arguably one form.
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