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Abstract

The current investigation tested if people's basic belief in the notion that human beings have developed from other animals (i.e., belief in evolution) can predict human-to-human prejudice and intergroup hostility. Using data from the American General Social Survey and Pew Research Center (Studies 1-4), and from three online samples (Studies 5, 7, 8) we tested this hypothesis across 45 countries, in diverse populations and religious settings, across time, in nationally representative data (N = 60,703), and with more comprehensive measures in online crowdsourced data (N = 2,846). Supporting the hypothesis, low belief in human evolution was associated with higher levels of prejudice, racist attitudes, and support for discriminatory behaviors against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ), Blacks, and immigrants in the United States (Study 1), with higher ingroup biases, prejudicial attitudes toward outgroups, and less support for conflict resolution in samples collected from 19 Eastern European countries (Study 2), 25 Muslim countries (Study 3), and Israel (Study 4). Further, among Americans, lower belief in evolution was associated with greater prejudice and militaristic attitudes toward political outgroups (Study 5). Finally, perceived similarity to animals (a construct distinct from belief in evolution, Study 6) partially mediated the link between belief in evolution and prejudice (Studies 7 and 8), even when controlling for religious beliefs, political views, and other demographic variables, and were also observed for nondominant groups (i.e., religious and racial minorities). Overall, these findings highlight the importance of belief in human evolution as a potentially key individual-difference variable predicting racism and prejudice. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
Running Head: BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE
Bigotry and the human-animal divide: (Dis)belief in Human Evolution and Bigoted
Attitudes Across Different Cultures
Stylianos Syropoulos*1, Uri Lifshin*2, Jeff Greenberg3, Dylan E. Horner3, & Bernhard Leidner1
Author notes
*Denotes co-first authorship.
1 Stylianos Syropoulos and Bernhard Leidner, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences,
University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.
2 Uri Lifshin School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel.
3 Jeff Greenberg, and Dylan E. Horner, Department of Psychology, the University of Arizona.
The authors declare that there are no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Stylianos Syropoulos, Department
of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA. Email:
ssyropoulos@umass.edu
***AUTHOR PRE-PRINT VERSION***
©American Psychological Association, [2022]. This paper is not the copy of record and may
not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final
article was published at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and is available
at: https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000391
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 2
Abstract
The current investigation tested if people’s basic belief in the notion that human beings have
developed from other animals (i.e., belief in evolution) can predict human-to-human prejudice
and intergroup hostility. Using data from the American General Social Survey and Pew Research
Center (Studies 1-4), and from three online samples (Studies 5, 7, 8) we tested this hypothesis
across 45 countries, in diverse populations and religious settings, across time, in nationally
representative data (N = 60,703), and with more comprehensive measures in online
crowdsourced data (N = 2,846). Supporting the hypothesis, low belief in human evolution was
associated with higher levels of prejudice, racist attitudes, and support for discriminatory
behaviors against LGBTQ, Blacks, and immigrants in the United States (Study 1), with higher
ingroup biases, prejudicial attitudes towards outgroups, and less support for conflict resolution in
samples collected from 19 Eastern European countries (Study 2), 25 Muslim countries (Study 3),
and Israel (Study 4). Further, among Americans, lower belief in evolution was associated with
greater prejudice and militaristic attitudes towards political outgroups (Study 5). Finally,
perceived similarity to animals (a construct distinct from belief in evolution, Study 6) partially
mediated the link between belief in evolution and prejudice (Studies 7 and 8), even when
controlling for religious beliefs, political views, and other demographic variables, and were also
observed for non-dominant groups (i.e., religious and racial minorities). Overall, these findings
highlight the importance of belief in human evolution as a potentially key individual-difference
variable predicting racism and prejudice.
Keywords: Belief in evolution, racism, prejudice, discrimination, human-animal relations
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 3
Bigotry and the human-animal divide: (Dis)Belief in human evolution from animals and bigoted
attitudes across different cultures
Darwin’s theory of evolution (1859; 1871) has undoubtably affected the way human
beings think about themselves and others. It has particularly influenced the way people think
about race, and it has historically been (mis)used to perpetuate racism, prejudice, homophobia,
and intergroup violence. For example, the notion of evolution by natural selection leading to the
“survival of the fittest” has been morphed to justify and perpetuate social injustices, systemic
racism and discrimination, slavery, war and genocide. It has been utilized by prominent
eugenicists (Helfand, 2020) and White supremacists (Kendi, 2017), and was central to the
genocidal Nazi ideology (Weikart, 2004, 2009) as well as other prejudicial ideologies (Rose,
2009). It has also been used by evolutionary psychologists and socio-biologists to argue for
genetic differences among races in intelligence and other attributes (e.g., Rushton, 1994). Aside
from being utilized as the fuse for what was the spark of genocide and prejudice, the theory of
evolution has also propagated prejudice in people’s attitudes at the implicit level (e.g., Goff et
al., 2008).
In contrast with this troubling history, recent theory and research in the social sciences
make it reasonable to consider the possibility that at least one core tenet of the theory of
evolution has the potential to reduce prejudice and intergroup hostility that is, the idea that
human beings have developed from other animals. This body of research suggests that a larger
perceived divide between humans and animals lower perceived similarity of the self to animals
(PSSA) relates to more negative attitudes towards various outgroups (e.g., Amiot & Bastian,
2015; Caviola et al., 2019; Costello & Hodson, 2010; Dhont et al., 2019; masked for review).
Considering that individuals who believe in the notion that humans developed from animals also
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 4
tend to have higher levels of PSSA (e.g., Lifshin et al., 2021), such beliefs should relate to less
prejudice and negative attitudes towards outgroups. In the current paper, we tested this
possibility using diverse datasets from nationally representative data of Americans collected by
the General Social Survey (GSS; Smith et al., 1972-2018), nationally representative and
culturally diverse data collected from the Pew Research Center in 19 Eastern European countries
(Pew Research Center, 2016), 25 Muslim countries (Pew Research Center, 2013), and Israel
(Pew Research Center, 2015), as well as from online samples with American participants.
Racism and Dehumanization
Following the events of WW2 and the Holocaust, social psychologists began focusing
many of their efforts on understanding the destructive forces in human nature that lead to
prejudice, mass violence and genocide, in the hope that these efforts would help prevent future
atrocities (e.g., Allport, 1954; Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Of the many important scientific
discoveries that explain the behavior of Nazis and their collaborators (such as obedience to
authority, scapegoating, and cognitive dissonance), one key mechanism seemed to be the
tendency of Nazis to dehumanize their victims by comparing them to lower animals (e.g.,
Bandura, 1999; Castano & Giner-Sorolla, 2006; Hagan & Rymond-Richmond, 2008; Harris &
Fiske, 2011; for a model of the stages of genocide, see Stanton, 2013). But the Nazis weren’t the
first or the last who, as a group, dehumanized other groups (i.e., outgroups). The early American
settlers/colonizers, for example, compared the indigenous peoples to savage animals, and years
later justified enslaving Blacks by categorizing them as subhuman. In the Nanjing massacre, the
Japanese compared the Chinese and Koreans to dogs and pigs. In the Rwandan genocide, the
Hutu compared the Tutsi to cockroaches. The list of examples of dehumanization leading to
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 5
hostility, violence and genocide of outgroup members in human history, both ancient and
modern, goes on and on.
In searching for ways to prevent or reduce dehumanization, some social psychological
research has focused on (re-)humanization of the outgroup (e.g., Haslam & Loughnan, 2014;
Staub, 2006; for a reviews, see Haslam, 2006, 2015). Recently, however, there have also been
attempts to tackle the problem of dehumanization from a new direction by examining how
people’s acceptance of the notion that they are animals relates to (less) prejudice toward people
from other groups (e.g., Caviola et al., 2019; Costello & Hodson, 2010, 2012).
Beliefs about Human Evolution and Perceived Similarity to Animals
Over 160 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species (Darwin, 1859, 1971),
many people around the world still do not accept the idea that human beings have developed
from other animals and share a common ancestor with apes and other mammals (e.g., Pew
Research Center, 2013, 2016, 2019). The primary reason for this is the fact that many religious
worldviews offer a different explanation to the origin of human beings for example that they
were created in the image of God (e.g., Mazur, 2004; Pew Research Center, 2019). However,
while disbelief in human evolution is often rooted in religiosity, it also varies across religious
individuals; even highly religious individuals may generally accept its core concepts (e.g., John
Paul II, 1996; Pew Research Center, 2019). Ultimately, individuals who think that humans did
not develop from other animals perceive themselves to be qualitatively different from animals
(e.g., Lifshin et al., 2021) and this may affect their attitudes towards animals (e.g., Amiot et al.,
2019) and human outgroups (e.g., Amiot & Bastian, 2015; Caviola et al., 2019; Crimston et al.,
2016; Dhont et al., 2019).
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 6
The link between belief in evolution and prejudice has mostly been overlooked. Instead
what has gained considerably more attention is how perceiving oneself as similar to animals
(PSSA) can potentially reduce prejudice. We theorize that those who believe that humans
evolved from animals, could, as an extension express greater PSSA. Research on PSSA and its
consequences has been mostly guided by social identity theory (SIT; e.g., Gaertner & Dovidio,
2000; Hornsey & Hogg, 2000; Tajfel & Turner, 1986) and more recently by terror management
theory (TMT; Greenberg et al., 1986; Solomon et al., 2015). Research within the framework of
SIT focuses on the role of common human-animal group identity in fostering more positive and
harmonious intergroup relations (e.g., Costello & Hodson, 2010). On the other hand, the TMT
perspective highlights the potential role of denial of human creatureliness in explaining why
disbelievers in the notion of human evolution might have more negative attitudes towards
outgroups and be more racist and prejudiced (masked for review). Both of these complementary
perspectives suggest that PSSA may link beliefs in the origin of human beings from animals with
ingroup identity and attitudes towards outgroups.
Social Identity: Common Human-Animal Group Identity
From the perspective of SIT, people’s sense of belonging and identification with groups
constitutes a central part of their identity and an important psychological resource for self-worth
(e.g., Tajfel & Turner 1979, 1986). Individuals are therefore more likely to have positive attitude
towards those whom they may consider as a part of their ingroup.
Individuals who believe that humans evolved from animals may feel a greater sense of
common group identity with other species of animals (since they have a common origin, similar
features, etc.), and they may even feel more so with respect to other members of their own
species (i.e., all human beings). Consequently, they may have more empathy and positive
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 7
attitudes towards people with different social identities than their own. In contrast, those who
think that they are in essence not at all like other animals are more likely to highlight their socio-
cultural human identities (e.g., their nationality, religious denomination, etc.; masked for
review). This narrower categorization of their ingroup might lead to less empathy and more
animosity towards people from other socio-cultural backgrounds (e.g., national or religious
outgroups).
Indeed, building on this framework, studies have shown that describing animals as more
similar to (rather than different from) humans can increase empathy and reduce prejudice
towards human outgroup members (Bastian et al., 2012; Costello & Hodson, 2010, 2012). This
sense of common humanity and group identity may actually expand feelings of shared identity
and moral concerns and consequently increase positive attitudes towards outgroups and defuse
prejudice (e.g., Brewer, 2007; Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000; Hornsey & Hogg, 2000).
Terror Management: Denial of Creatureliness and Prejudice
Following the writing of Ernest Becker (e.g., 1975), TMT suggests that a key motive in
human behavior is the need to avoid death awareness and anxiety by obtaining a sense of
security and immortality. According to TMT, to gain such sense of protection, people need to
immerse themselves within cultural worldviews that provide them with the feeling that they are
not meaningless and mortal animals, but valuable members of their cultures who may continue to
exist after death, either literally or symbolically.
TMT has been widely used to explain intergroup conflicts (for reviews see, Pyszczynski
et al., 2008; Greenberg et al., 2016). From the perspective of TMT, because cultural and social
identities shield people from existential threats, the mere existence of people from different
groups, with different cultural worldviews or social identities, might pose a threat to the validity
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 8
of one’s own basis of psychological equanimity. In contrast, people who share and validate one’s
ingroup’s cultural worldview provides a source of psychological protection. This dynamic is
especially relevant when existential threat (e.g., death) is salient and people need to validate their
cultural worldviews to bolster their sense of protection (e.g., Castano et al., 2002; Greenberg et
al., 1990). When people’s cultural identity is threatened or undermined, it increases their death-
related thoughts and concerns (e.g., Schimel et al., 2007), and motivates them to defend their
cultural worldviews (e.g., Arndt et al., 1997). In turn this can foster intergroup bias, prejudice
and negative attitudes and behaviors, including aggression, towards outgroups (e.g., Greenberg et
al., 1990; Greenberg & Kosloff, 2008).
TMT has also been used to explain why people may have negative attitudes towards
animals and are motivated to disassociate themselves from animals in the first place. Research in
this vein has demonstrated that highlighting the idea of human creatureliness can increase death-
related concerns, and that such concerns may partly underlie the human motivation to
disassociate from animals (e.g., Goldenberg et al., 2000; 2001; 2019) as well as negative
attitudes towards animals (e.g., Beatson & Halloran, 2007; Lifshin et al., 2017; for a review see
Marino & Mountain, 2015). Studies have also demonstrated that the motivation to manage
existential threats can partially explain why people may have a difficult time accepting Darwin’s
theory on the animal origin of humans in the first place (Tracy et al., 2011).
Of particular importance to our current investigation, TMT may explain why people who
do not believe that humans evolved from animals might have more negative attitudes towards
(members of) outgroups, compared to people who do believe in human evolution from animals.
Because cultural worldviews and social identities help people deny their similarity to animals
(e.g., Goldenberg et al., 2000; masked for review), studies show that people who are low in
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 9
PSSA, including those who may not believe that humans have evolved from other animals, also
identify more strongly with their socio-cultural identities, and depend on them more, in order to
minimize existential concerns (masked for review). Recent studies have also shown that as a
consequence, people low in PSSA also display more intergroup bias and prejudice when threats
are salient (masked for review). Since existential threats (including subtle and subliminal ones)
encounters of animals, and awareness of one’s body and therefore one’s human-creatureliness
are all inseparable parts of life, it is likely that individuals who do not believe in the notion that
humans evolved from other animals, and thus might have low PSSA, would also tend to be more
invested in their specific (and exclusive) ingroup social identities. This might eventually lead
people to develop more negative attitudes towards outgroups in general. On the other hand,
people who do believe that all human beings share a common animal origin may have a broader
definition of their common human ingroup identity and categorize people with different social,
cultural, national, ethnic, racial, sexual identities as part of their human ingroup. This may not
only defuse general and reactive prejudice, but under some circumstances, even increase positive
attitudes towards outgroups when existential threats are salient (Motyl et al., 2011; masked for
review).
Disgust, Denial of Creatureliness and Prejudice
Individuals who do not believe in the theory of human evolution and are low in PSSA
might also have higher disgust sensitivity (masked for review), which could in turn make them
more prejudiced towards outgroups (e.g., Hodson et al., 2014; Skinner & Hudac, 2017). This
might be especially true in regard to homophobia and homonegativity. Because feelings of
disgust are typically elicited in response to viewing animals and/or sexual activity (e.g., Rozin et
al., 2008), those who perceive a greater divide between themselves and animals might also have
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 10
more negative attitudes towards those who do not share their own sexual orientation. Indeed,
research shows that higher disgust sensitivity as well as inductions of disgust can cause more
prejudice by heterosexual individuals against members of the LGBTQ community in general,
and especially towards gay men (e.g., Inbar et al., 2009; Morrison et al., 2019; Terrizzi et al.,
2010; for a review see Kiss et al., 2020). Research in the framework of TMT indicates that
disgust stimuli as well as reminders of creatureliness and sexuality cause increased death thought
accessibility (Goldenberg et al., 2001; Cox et al., 2007). Other studies found that increased death
thoughts (mortality salience) make people perceive the physical aspects of sex as less appealing
(Goldenberg et al., 2002), and report more negative attitudes towards gay men (but not towards
lesbians), depending on gender role beliefs (Webster & Saucier, 2011). We might therefore
expect that heterosexual individuals who do not believe in human evolution (and as a result
perceive themselves as more different from animals) would generally report more negative
attitudes towards members of the LGBTQ community.
The Current Research
The current research aimed to systematically test the hypothesis that disbelief in human
evolution is positively associated with racism, prejudice, discriminatory behavior and support for
intergroup conflict using data from representative samples across the world. In Study 1, we
tested our hypothesis in the United States by using data from the General Social Survey (GSS;
Smith et al., 1972-2016), across all the years in which relevant variables were included. In Study
2, we focused on data collected in the 19 Eastern European countries where Christian orthodoxy
is the largest denomination, and which assessed acceptance of outgroups. In Study 3, we used
data from 25 Muslim countries, to examine how belief in human evolution is associated with
intentions to contact and accept outgroup members. In Study 4, we tested our hypothesis using
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 11
data obtained from a nationally representative sample from Israel that focused on the association
of belief in human evolution with both intergroup attitudes and support for conflict resolution
with the Palestinians. In Study 5, we replicated this association with a more comprehensive
measure of belief in human evolution. In Study 6, we highlighted that the belief that humans
evolved from animals is a construct psychometrically distinct from perceived similarity of
oneself to animals. In Studies 7 and 8, using a correlational and experimental design,
respectively, we tested the potential for perceived similarity to animals to act as a mediator
between belief in human evolution from animals and prejudice. All the data utilized for the
current investigation are publicly available by the General Social Survey and the Pew Research
Center respectively or made available by the researchers on the Open Science Framework,
https://osf.io/n72rh/?view_only=5c77a64d73f74164b86c4fcbbc1afa95.
Study 1: American GSS
Study 1 was aimed at testing our hypothesis in representative samples of the American
population, using the General Social Survey (GSS; Smith et al., 1972-2018). The GSS has been
utilized in past investigations of prejudice and discrimination, making it a particularly suitable
platform for investigating our current hypotheses (e.g., Downey, 2000; Raden, 1994). Of interest
were the 10 years which included measures of belief in human evolution: 1993, 1994, 2000,
2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018. With regards to racism, prejudice, and support for
discriminatory behaviors, the GSS contained various measures of attitudes towards racial groups
and immigrants in the years/samples that also included measures of attitudes towards animals.
We therefore focused much of our analyses on attitudes towards Blacks among White
Americans. Although different racial groups do not necessarily constitute outgroups per se, there
have been many instances in psychological investigations in which they have been studied as
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 12
either the recipient of prejudice and discrimination (e.g., Branscombe et al., 1999; Craig &
Richeson, 2012), or as an outgroup for studies focusing on intergroup conflict (e.g., Amodio,
Devine, & Harmon-Jones, 2008; Goff et al., 2008).
Although there has been a reduction of explicit and blatant racism and prejudice, studies
in social psychology have demonstrated that subtle and implicit racism and support for indirect
discrimination against Black Americans by White Americans still exist in America (e.g.,
Charlesworth & Banaji, 2019; Lee, et al., 2019; Pager & Shepherd, 2008; Pettigrew, 2008).
These attitudes may be more hidden and indirect, such as supporting less government assistance
towards Blacks and objecting to affirmative action on grounds of “equality” (e.g., Dovidio et al.,
1989; Smith, 2001). Other studies show the prevalence of implicit bias against Blacks, which can
be observed using various behavioral measures such as body language during an interaction (e.g.,
Dovidio et al., 2002), hiring decisions (e.g., Pearson et al., 2009), or the decision to shoot or not
shoot an armed/unarmed Black suspect in a computerized task (e.g., Correll et al., 2014). There
has also been an abundance of studies showing that many White Americans have negative
implicit stereotypes of Blacks, including stereotypes that are explicitly dehumanizing (e.g., Goff
et al., 2008).
To test for the specificity vs. generalizability of the predicted effects, we also investigated
attitudes towards immigrants, as these groups tend to also be targeted by prejudicial and
discriminatory behaviors in a manner that is similar to racial minorities, and because in the case
of the United States, most immigrants are also considered racial minorities (e.g., Danso et al.,
2007; Falomir-Pichastor & Frederic, 2013). Research has shown that symbolic racism
significantly predicts opposition to legal immigration to the USA, immigrant access to and
provision of federal aid, work permits, citizenship to children of immigrants, as well as standard
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 13
costs for attendance to US colleges (Berg, 2013). Further, research has consistently found that
immigrants are targets of prejudice and discrimination, with findings being stronger when
individuals who are engaging in discriminatory or prejudicial behaviors are more strongly
identified with their country (Falomir-Pichastor & Frederic, 2013; Kende et al., 2019), higher in
social dominance orientation (Costello & Hodson, 2011), or lower in trait empathy (Boag et al.,
2016). Thus, examining the effect of perceived similarity to animals within the context of
attitudes towards immigrants could provide further evidence in support of research on the
human-animal divide’s capacity to heighten – or reduce negative attitudes towards outgroups.
Congruently, we hypothesized that the belief that humans evolved from animals would be
negatively related to indices of prejudice and racism and positively related to favorable attitudes
towards Blacks and immigrants.
Method
Participants
A detailed description of samples is available on the GSS website (Smith et al., 1972-
2016). Only American-born participants were included in the analysis, as the target outgroups
were relevant within the context of the U.S.
In the data from 1993, 1994 and 2000, the overall number of American participants was
6,767 (91.26% of the total sample). From these participants 5,683 (83.98%) were white, 912
were Black (13.48%) and 172 were of some other race or ethnicity (2.54%). The item assessing
belief in human evolution was not displayed to, or not answered by, 3,389 participants (50%).
Thus, the total number of usable participants for these years was 3,378 (1,889 females, Mage =
45.37, SDage = 16.72).
1
1
The GSS includes a question (“race”) about participants’ racial identity, with three response options: 1 = White, 2
= Black, 3 = Some other race. Thus we are limited to these categories in our analyses/discussion of our results.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 14
In the time period from 2006 to 2018, in which the survey was administered every two
years, the total number of participants was 18,304, 14,564 (87.86%) of whom were born in the
United States. Out of these 14,564 participants, 11,419 (78.41%) were white, 2329 were Black
(15.99%) and 816 were of some other race (5.60%). Ultimately, a dichotomous question that
assessed the belief in human evolution but was different from the question used in 1993, 1994
and 2000, was answered by a total of 5,585 participants (38%; 3,178 females; Mage = 47.96,
SDage = 17.44).
Materials and Procedure
A detailed description of the materials and the procedure is available on the GSS website
(Smith et al., 1972-2016). Below we provide details about our main predictor variable (belief in
human evolution from animals), the relevant covariates, and the target outcome variables
(attitudes towards blacks; attitudes towards immigrants). Throughout our coding, we aimed to
keep all the outcome variables framed such that higher scores indicate higher endorsement of
each specific statement.
Belief in human evolution. One item assessing the belief that humans developed from
animals (“Human beings developed from earlier species of animals”; 1 = Definitely true; 2 =
Probably true; 3 = Probably not true; 4 = Definitely not true), appeared in the years 1993, 1994
and 2000. A second item assessing the belief that humans developed from animals (“Human
beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals”; True/False) was in
included in the data from 2006-2018.
Primary outcome variable(s): attitudes towards African Americans/Blacks.
2
For our
main dependent variable, we focused on items assessing attitudes towards Blacks. Because these
2
For all the measures that are listed below we opted to use the terms exactly as they were presented in the GSS.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 15
variables were presented in different years (and among different samples), we were often unable
to combine these into a single construct, and thus treated them as single-item dependent variables
in our analyses whenever grouping was not possible. For a detailed description of the different
variables and samples they were used in, see Table 1.
Government aid. Several questions about participants’ opinions on government spending
in different domains, including: whether the government was spending “too little”, “about right”
or “too much” to improve the lives of Blacks; whether the government should generally help
Blacks; and whether blacks are receiving enough government attention (“Do you think that
Blacks get more attention from government than they deserve?”; 1 = Much less, 5 = Much more).
Attitudes on affirmative action. Several questions focused on attitudes towards
affirmative action in hiring Blacks (e.g.,“… are you for or against preferential hiring and
promotion of Blacks?”; reverse-coded to 1 = Strongly oppose, 4 = Strongly support for aid of
interpretation); agreement with the opinion that Blacks should confront prejudice without help
(reverse coded as: 1 = Disagree strongly, 5 = Agree strongly); and whether white Americans are
hurt by affirmative action measures towards Blacks (1 = Not very likely, 3 = Very likely).
General attitudes and behavioral intentions towards Blacks. Across the different years
there were also several questions that assessed participants’ attitudes and behavioral intentions
towards Blacks, including: feelings towards Blacks in terms of sympathy and admiration (“How
often have you felt sympathy for Blacks?”; “How often have you felt admiration for Blacks?”; 1
= Never, 4 = Very often); reaction to having a close relative marry a Black person (“How about
having a close relative or family member marry a Black person?”; 1 = Strongly oppose, 5 =
Strongly favor); if they were in favor of interracial marriage (yes/no); willingness to live in a
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 16
neighborhood where half the neighbors are Blacks (“Living in a neighborhood where half of
your neighbors were Blacks?”; 1 = Strongly oppose, 5 = Strongly favor).
In some of the ballots there was another question that expressed blatant negative attitudes
towards Blacks, reflecting more dated prejudice towards Blacks: “[Negroes/Blacks/African-
Americans] shouldnt push themselves where theyre not wanted (1 = Disagree strongly, 4 =
Agree strongly); and “White people have a right to keep [Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans]
out of their neighborhoods if they want to, and [Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans] should
respect that right” (1 = Disagree strongly, 4 = Agree strongly). Two items also captured
perceptions of blacks as lazy/hard-working and unintelligent/intelligent (on an 1-7 scale with the
two options serving as the low and high ends of the scale).
Four additional dichotomous items inquired about beliefs about racial differences in jobs,
income and housing, with answers being either Yes or No”. 3 These focused on whether these
differences occur due to: (1) discrimination, (2) inborn differences, (3) lack of education, (4)
Black individuals’ lack of motivation.
Secondary outcome variable(s).
Attitude towards immigrants. We identified several questions about legal and illegal
immigrants. These included questions about increasing or decreasing legal immigration to the
U.S. (“Do you think the number of immigrants from foreign countries who are permitted to come
to the United States to live should be increased a lot, increased a little, left the same as it is now,
decreased a little, or decreased a lot?”); the possible effects of legal immigration on the
economy, employment and national unity (1 = Not Very likely, 4 = Very likely); whether
immigrants were demanding too many rights (1 = Strongly disagree to 5 = Strongly agree);
whether immigrants should confront prejudice without help; as well as two dichotomous
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 17
variables focusing on whether illegal immigrants should be granted work permits, and if they
should be eligible for government assistance (yes/no).
Seven additional variables focused on the ideological consequences of immigration for
Americans: whether American culture is undermined by immigrants; whether immigrants make
America more open to new ideas and cultures; whether America should take stronger measures
to exclude illegal immigrants; whether immigrants increase crime rates; whether immigrants take
jobs away from people who were born in America; and whether legal immigrants should have
equal access to public education as American citizens. All of these seven new variables were
measured on scale from 1 = Disagree strongly 5 = Agree strongly (reversed coded).
Attitude towards LGBTQ. Four items capturing attitudes towards LGBTQ were included
in all the years of the GSS included in our analyses. One item focused on whether it is wrong for
two adults to have same-sex relations, with scores ranging from “1 = always wrong” to “4 = not
wrong at all.” Three other items focused on how accepting of LGBTQ individuals are in different
aspects of their life. These items specifically inquired about allowing books about homosexuality
in a public library, allowing a homosexual to teach in a college or university, and allowing a
homosexual to make a speech in one’s community. These items were dichotomous, and we chose
to sum them together in one parsimonious construct as they proved to be reliable in both the in
the 1993, 1994, 2000 samples (α = .81) and in the 2006-2018 samples (α = .82), the measure was
reliable.
General attitudes and behavioral intentions towards Whites. Across the different
years there were also several questions that assessed participants’ attitudes and behavioral
intentions towards Whites. These four items were identical to the items focusing on Blacks and
are listed in Table 1.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 18
Potential Covariates and additional variables of interest. We also included responses
focusing on education level, religiosity, conservative political beliefs, and income to ensure that
the observed relationships were not explained by other potential variables. Furthermore, in order
to further control for the possibility that differences in belief in human evolution reflect
differences in scientific knowledge, we also assessed if our hypothesized associations hold when
controlling for another item assessing participants’ scientific knowledge that was included in the
(“Antibiotics kill bacteria not viruses; 1 = Definitely true; 2 = Probably true; 3 = Probably not
true; 4 = Definitely not true).
Moreover, to further establish the unique predictive value of belief in human evolution
we also assessed how other variables that may be indirectly related to both belief in human
evolution or prejudice. One such variable is attitudes towards animal rights, which was also
found to be conceptually related to higher levels of prejudice and negative attitudes towards
outgroups (e.g., Caviola et al., 2019; Dhont et al., 2019). In the years 1993, 1994 and 2000, the
GSS included two items measuring attitudes towards animal rights (“Animals should have the
same moral rights that human beings do”; 1 = Strongly disagree, 5 = Strongly agree) and
agreement with animal testing (“It is right to use animals for medical testing if it might save
human lives” 1 = Strongly disagree, 5 = Strongly agree). These items were tested both as
potential covariates and as separately predictor variables.
Table 1.
Characteristics of the Variables Included in the GSS Samples Included in the Current
Investigation.
GSS Variable Name
Description
Scale
Predictor Variables
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 19
scitest4
Humans evolved from animals
1-4
evolved
Humans developed from earlier species
True/False
Government Aid towards Blacks (and other groups)
natrace
Improving the conditions of Blacks
1-3
natracey
Assistance to Blacks (Version Y)
1-3
helpblk
Should government aid Blacks?
1-3
blkgovt
Do Blacks get proper government attention
1-5
hspgovt
Do Hispanics get proper government attention
1-5
asngovt
Do Asians get proper government attention
1-5
whtgovt
Do Whites get proper government attention
1-5
Attitudes on Affirmative Action for Blacks
affrmact
Favor preference in hiring Blacks
1-4
jobaff
Favor preferences in hiring Blacks
1-4
wrkwayup
Blacks overcome prejudice without favors
1-5
discaff
Whites hurt by affirmative action
1-3
General Attitudes and Behavioral Intentions towards Blacks
symptblk
feel sympathy towards Blacks
1-4
admirblk
express admiration for Blacks
1-5
racmar
Favor law against racial intermarriage
Yes/No
marblk
Close relative marry Black
1-5
liveblks
Neighborhood half Black
1-5
racpush
Blacks shouldnt push
1-4
raceseg
Whites have right to segregate neighborhood
1-4
closeblk
How close feel to Blacks
1-9
workblks
Blacks are: hard working - lazy
1-7
intlblks
Blacks are: unintelligent - intelligent
1-7
racdif1
Differences in races due to: discrimination
Yes/No
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 20
racdif2
Differences in races due to: inborn differences
Yes/No
racdif3
Differences in races due to: lack of education
Yes/No
racdif4
Differences in races due to: lack of motivation
Yes/No
General Attitudes and Behavioral Intentions towards Whites
marwht
Close relative marry White
1-5
closewht
How close feel to Whites
1-9
workwhts
Whites are: hard working - lazy
1-7
intlwhts
Whites are: unintelligent - intelligent
1-7
Attitudes towards Immigrants
immunite
Will immigrants affect national unity
1-4
letin
Increase or decrease immigrants to USA
1-5
immwrkup
Should immigrants overcome bias without help
1-5
immunemp
Will immigrants fuel unemployment
1-4
undocwrk
Should illegal immigrants get work permits?
Yes/No
immfare
Immigrants eligible for government assistance?
Yes/No
immpush
Are immigrants demanding too many rights?
1-5
immecon
Will immigrants lead to economic growth
1-4
letin1a
Number of immigrants nowadays should be
1-5
immrghts
Legal immigrants have same rights
1-5
immcult
American culture is generally undermined by immigrants
1-5
immeduc
Legal immigrants have same education
1-5
immcrime
Immigrants do not cause crime
1-5
excldimm
America should not exclude illegal immigrants
1-5
immameco
Immigrants good for America
1-5
immideas
Immigrants make America more open to new ideas
1-5
immjobs
Immigrants take away jobs
1-5
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 21
Attitudes towards LGBTQ
homosex
sexual relations between two adults of the same sex are
wrong
1-4
libhomo
In favor of taking a book on homosexuality out of your
public library written by a homosexual
Yes/No
colhomo
Allow homosexuals teach in a college or university
Yes/No
spkhomo
Allow homosexuals to make a speech in your community
Yes/No
Covariates
anrights
Animals have rights too
1-5
antests
Ok to test on animals to save humans
1-5
Scitest2
Bacteria cause viruses
1-4
partyid
Political party affiliation
0-6
attend
How often R attends religious services
0-8
income
Annual family income
1-12
educ
Number of years of education completed
0-20
Results
Analytic Strategy
All analyses were conducted using SAS (Statistical Analysis Software) version 9.4. For
the variables measured on continuous scales, we computed Pearson’s correlation coefficients.
For the variables measured on ordinal scales, we computed Spearman’s correlation coefficients
to provide non-parametrical tests. If the dependent variable was dichotomous, we conducted
biserial correlation coefficients. because the GSS utilized different types of questions at different
years (see Table 1) and different versions of questions we often administered only to subsets of
each sample within each year, our ability to form composite measures was limited. Our approach
in the analysis was to therefore test the correlation between our predictors (belief in human
evolution) and each dependent variable directly. Note that due to the fact that some questions
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 22
were not presented to all participants the degrees of freedom in the analyses reported below are
different for each question. Finally, for questions focusing on racial groups (i.e., Blacks,
Hispanics, Asians) we only retained white participants in these analyses. For analyses in which
the target outgroup were immigrants or members of the LGBTQ community we retained our full
sample, while controlling for participants’ race. In addition, to determine whether these effects
are also observed for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) respondents, excluding the
dominant majority (White), we also conducted analyses for which we excluded White
participants, provided that we had an adequate sample size, as in all years of the GSS
approximately 75% of participants were White respondents, and the measures of interest were
displayed to a smaller sub-sample of the GSS.
Initial tests indicated that belief in human evolution was not related to support for animal
testing, r(3,212) = -.02, p = .332, and slightly related to support for animal rights, r(2,286) = .12,
p < .001. The latter two were rather strongly related to each other, as expected, r(2,461) = .46, p
< .001. Their respective correlations with belief in human evolution, on the other hand, supported
our expectation that they were constructs distinct from the construct of belief in human
evolution. Belief in human evolution was also related to political conservatism, r(3,301) = -.14, p
< .001, and to religiosity, r(3,060) = -.24, p < .001. Therefore, we used these variables as
covariates in subsequent analyses.
In the sections below we report the standardized regression estimates obtained after
regressing the outcome variables (different types of discrimination) on the continuous measure of
belief in human evolution, for the years 1993, 1994, 2000, while controlling for religiosity,
(conservative) political beliefs, educational level, income and gender. In the supplementary
materials we also present additional results that further support our hypothesis rather than
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 23
alternative explanations, by regressing the different types of prejudicial attitudes on the measure
belief in evolution, support for animal testing, support for animal testing, and general scientific
knowledge. Finally, we report analyses with the dichotomous measure of belief in human
evolution measured in the years 2006-2018 and the measures of prejudice included in those
years.
Belief in human evolution in the years 1993, 1994, 2000
The years 1993, 1994, and 2000 shared the same item assessing belief in human
evolution. Table 2 includes all the standardized regression weights for the associations of belief
in human evolution with the different outcome variables in these years. We chose to compute
linear regressions rather than multilevel models because (1) each year had different participants
and (2) each year included somewhat different measures of prejudice.
Government assistance to Blacks. Controlling for educational attainment, political
beliefs, religiosity, income and gender, participants’ belief in human evolution was associated
with more favorable attitudes towards Blacks in terms of support for government spending on the
“improving the conditions” (“natrace”), β = .08, SE = .02, p = .018, and “assistance to Blacks”
(“natracey”), β = .13, SE = .02, p < .001; whether the government should help Blacks, β =.12, SE
= .02, p < .001; but negatively with thinking that Blacks receive more proper help than they
deserve, β = -.08, SE = .04, p = .034; This effect was not significant for the same item inquiring
about Asians or Hispanics (ps > .05), however it was significant for Whites (in the opposite
direction): β = .08, SE = .03, p = .029.
Attitudes towards affirmative action. Controlling for the same covariates, belief in
human evolution was also associated with more support for affirmative action measures towards
Blacks, β = .16, SE = .03, p < .001; support for hiring preferences for Blacks, β = .10, SE = .03, p
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 24
= .014; and negatively associated with the belief that Blacks should overcome prejudice on their
own, β = -.18, SE = .03, p < .001.
Feelings towards Blacks. Controlling for the same covariates, belief in human evolution
was positively associated with sympathy towards Blacks, β = .08, SE = .03, p = .037; but not
with admiration towards Blacks (p > .05). Further, belief in human evolution was associated with
increased willingness to live close to Blacks, β = .15, SE = .05, p = .003; support for a relative to
marry somebody who is Black, β = .25, SE = .06, p < .001; but not for interracial marriage in
general, (p = .105). Belief in human evolution was also negatively related to support for
segregation, both in terms of the belief that Blacks should not push themselves in society, β = -
.07, SE = .03, p = .042; and that Whites have the right to segregate neighborhoods, β = -.07, SE =
.02, p = .026.
Attitudes towards immigrants. Similar linear regression models were computed to
examine the relationships between belief in human evolution and attitudes towards immigrants.
The only difference is that we also included participants who identified as Black, or some other
race in our analyses, while controlling for participants’ racial identity. The results supported our
hypothesis, as belief in human evolution was positively correlated with allowing more
immigrants in the country, β = .09, SE = .03, p = .012, the belief that immigrants will lead to
economic growth, β = .10, SE = .03, p = .007, as well as the belief that admission of immigrants
in the country will not harm its national unity, β = .07, SE = .03, p = .041. Moreover, belief in
human evolution was negatively associated with the belief that immigrants are demanding too
many rights, β = -.09, SE = .04, p = .008, the belief that immigrants should overcome prejudice
on their own, β = -.14, SE = .03, p < .001, but not the belief that immigrants cause
unemployment or with willingness to grant immigrants work permits (ps > .05). Finally, a
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 25
logistic regression showed belief in human evolution was associated with increased
acknowledgement that immigrants should receive governmental assistance, Wald χ2 = 6.17, β =
.11, p = .013, 95% C.I. [1.04, 1.38].
Attitudes towards LGBTQ. Identical models to those focusing on attitudes towards
immigrants were estimated for attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals. Controlling for all
covariates, belief in human evolution was negatively correlated with the belief that
homosexuality is wrong, β = -.15, SE = .03, p < .001, and positively correlated with acceptance
of LGBTQ individuals in one’s life, β = .17, SE = .02, p < .001.
Table 2.
Standardized Linear Regression Weights (and SE) for All Dependent Variables Regressed on
Belief in Human evolution, While Controlling Key Covariates for White Participants in the GSS
Samples from 1993, 1994 and 2000.
Outcome Measure
(GSS Name)
Belief in human
evolution
Conservative
Political Beliefs
Religiosity
R square
(partial)
β
SE
β
SE
β
SE
1. Improving conditions of
Blacks (“natrace”)
0.08*
0.02
-0.16***
0.01
0.05
0.01
.15 (.15)
2. Assistance to Blacks
(“natracey”)
0.13***
0.02
-0.05
0.01
-0.01
0.01
.17 (.16)
3. Gov. should help
Blacks (“helpblk”)
0.12***
0.02
-0.16***
0.01
0.02
0.01
.19 (.19)
4. Blacks proper government
attention (“blkgovt”)
-0.08*
0.04
0.15***
0.02
-0.03
0.01
.21 (.21)
5. Affirmative action for Blacks
(affrmact)
0.16***
0.03
-0.08*
0.02
0.02
0.01
.14 (.13)
6. Favor preferences in hiring
Blacks (“Jobaff”)
0.10*
0.03
-0.05
0.01
-0.04
0.01
.19 (.19)
7. Blacks overcome prejudice
without favors (“wrkwayup”)
-0.18***
0.03
0.13***
0.02
-0.04
0.01
.17 (.17)
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 26
8. Sympathy towards Blacks
(“symptblk”)
0.08*
0.03
-0.09**
0.01
0.03
0.01
.14 (.13)
9. Admiration for Blacks
(“admirblk”)
0.05
0.03
-0.06
0.01
-0.02
0.01
.19 (.19)
10. Relative marries Black person
(“marblk”)
0.25***
0.06
-0.07
0.03
0.03
0.02
.23 (.22)
11. Live close to Blacks
(“liveblks”)
0.15***
0.05
-0.08
0.03
0.05
0.02
.15 (.14)
12. Blacks shouldnt push
themselves (“racpush”)
-0.07*
0.03
0.02
0.02
0.05
0.01
.10 (.10)
13. White’s segregate
neighborhood (“raceseg”)
-0.07*
0.02
-0.01
0.01
0.02
0.01
.08 (.07)
14. Pro interracial marriage with
Black (“marblk”)
00.08
0.08
0.07
0.04
-0.12**
0.03
--
15. Whites’ proper government
attention (“whtgovt”)
0.08**
0.03
-0.08*
0.01
0.13**
0.01
.06 (.05)
16. Asians’ proper government
attention (“asngovt”)
-0.05
0.03
0.07*
0.02
0.00
0.01
.04 (.03)
17. Hispanics’ proper government
attention (“hspgovt”)
-0.07
0.03
0.11**
0.02
0.01
0.01
.04 (.03)
18. Immigrants will not affect
national unity (“immunite”).
0.07*
0.03
-0.10**
0.02
-0.03
0.01
.08 (.08)
19. Number of immigrants
let in (“letin”)
0.09*
0.03
-0.04
0.02
0.02
0.01
.04 (.03)
20. Immigrants overcome
prejudice alone
(“immwrkup”)
-.14***
0.03
0.12***
0.01
-0.04
0.01
.11 (.10)
21. Immigrants cause
unemployment
(“immunemp”)
-0.01
0.02
0.06
0.01
-0.03
0.01
.05 (.04)
22. Immigrants push back
(“immpush”)
-.09**
0.04
0.11**
0.02
0.04
0.01
.09 (.08)
23. Immigrants will lead to
economic growth
(“immecon”)
0.10**
0.03
-0.05
0.02
0.01
0.01
.04 (.03)
24. Immigrants granted work
permit (“undocwrk”)
0.04
0.1
-0.18**
0.06
-0.11
0.04
--
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 27
25. Immigrants receive assistance
(“immfare”)
0.11*
0.07
-0.08
0.04
-0.05
0.03
--
26. Homosexuality is
wrong (“homosex”)
0.15***
0.03
-0.07***
0.01
-0.11***
0.01
.08 (.08)
27. Accepting homosexuals
(libhomo, spkhomo,
colhomo)
0.17***
0.02
0.02
0.01
-0.12***
0.01
.17 (.17)
Note. indicates a dichotomous outcome variable for which a logistic regression was computed.
*p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001. For outcomes focusing on immigrants and LGBTQ,
participants who identified as Black or some other race were also included. In these analyses, we
controlled for participants’ race by coding as Black = 1, Other = 0.
Belief in human evolution in the years 2006-2018
To examine the relationship between belief in human evolution and different forms of
prejudice, we computed ANCOVAs, controlling for the same covariates (religiosity,
conservative political beliefs, family income, education level and gender, as well as race for
outcomes targeting immigrants and LGBTQ). We performed all analyses for the years of 2006-
2018 in SAS, utilizing its general linear model (GLM) procedure for t-tests, analyses of variance,
and moderated regressions. As the GLM procedure outputs F instead of t values (but is
equivalent to using a regression procedure with effect coding of the categorical variable[s]), we
have reported Fs; the corresponding t values can be determined according to F=t2. Table 3 details
the results of the one-way ANCOVAs comparing individuals who believed in human evolution
and those who did not.
Government assistance to Blacks. Controlling for the same covariates as the 1993, 1994
and 200 samples, white Americans who did not believe in human evolution reported significantly
lower endorsement of governmental support towards Blacks, F(1, 1818) = 12.78, p < .001,
partial η2 = .007, 95% C.I. [.001, .016]. No significant effect was observed for improving the
conditions of blacks, or the belief that the government should assist Blacks (ps > 05).
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 28
Attitudes towards affirmative action. Since all three variables examining attitudes
towards affirmative action for Blacks were presented in all years in the time from 2006 to 2018,
to present more parsimonious results, were reverse-coded the variable examining attitudes
towards blacks and whether they should overcome difficulties on their own, standardized all
three variables such that M = 0 and SD = 1, and constructed a composite score, which captured
attitudes on affirmative action for Blacks. We computed an additional ANCOVA to examine
differences between those who believed in human evolution and those who did not. The results
supported our hypothesis, as White Americans who did not believe in human evolution
expressed less positive attitudes concerning affirmative action for Blacks, F(1, 3574) = 28.37, p
< .001, partial η2 = .008, 95% C.I. [.003, .015].
Feelings towards Blacks. Three variables were identical to the samples from 1993, 1994
and 2000. The first one was how close the respondent feels to Blacks, for which no significant
difference was found between individuals who endorsed or did not believe in human evolution (p
> .472). The second variable examined white Americans’ attitudes towards having a close
relative marry someone who is Black, for which an ANCOVA controlling for the same key
demographic predictors, showed a significant difference, supporting our prediction that belief in
human evolution would be associated with more positive feelings towards Blacks, F(1, 2397) =
20.80, p < .0001, partial η2 = .009, 95% C.I. [.003, .017]. The third variable examined how White
individuals felt about living in a neighborhood that was half Black; results showed no significant
difference (p = .801).
3
1. Two additional variables were included which examined perceptions of blacks as lazy and intelligent, for which
no significant difference was observed. We think that one possible explanation for this null effect is that the
items were expressing a very explicit from of prejudice rather than more indirect and subtle forms of prejudice
(e.g., Gaertner & Dovidio, 1977) as the majority of the other variables do. we conducted additional analyses to
check this by comparing participants who were interviewed in person to those interviewed over the phone and
report these analyses in the supplementary materials file. In short, results provided partial support for our
theorizing, as indeed, belief in evolution was positively related to thinking that blacks were intelligent only
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 29
General attitudes and behavioral intentions towards whites. Since we were able to
retain a large enough sample to examine whether our hypothesized effect would be observed for
racial minorities’ attitudes towards White Americans, we conducted four ANCOVAs for all
relevant outcomes, while excluding all White American participants. No significant effect was
found for the belief that Whites are unintelligent (p = .527), the belief that Whites are lazy (p =
.866), or attitudes towards having a close relative marry someone who is White (p = .230). A
statistically significant effect did emerge however for feeling close towards Whites, F(1, 404) =
4.36, p = .037, partial η2 = .011, 95% C.I. [.000, .038].
Attitudes towards immigrants. Given that all of the variables focusing on attitudes
towards immigrants were only displayed in the 2014 survey, we reverse-coded items which were
negatively phrased, and standardized the measures such that M = 0 and SD = 1, so that all the
variables were on the same scale. Controlling for the same covariates as in the 1993, 1994, and
2000 samples, a significant difference supporting our hypothesis was found, such that those who
believed in human evolution expressed more favorable attitudes towards immigrants F(1, 251) =
4.05, p = .045, partial η2 = .016, 95% C.I. [.000, .058].
Attitudes towards LGBTQ. Similar results as the 1993, 1994 and 2000 samples were
observed. In detail, two ANCOVAs showed that when controlling for all covariates, those who
did not believe in human evolution were significantly more likely to believe that homosexuality
is wrong, F(1, 4368) = 80.74, p < .001, partial η2 = .018, 95% C.I. [.011, .027], and less likely to
accept LGBTQ individuals in one’s life, F(1, 2550) = 46.91, p < .001, partial η2 = .018, 95% C.I.
[.009, .030].
when the questions were given on the phone, but not when it was in-person. However, the item measuring if
blacks are lazy was not related to belief in evolution, regardless of the method of administration. Due to the
small sample size for the analyses focusing on perceptions of whites as lazy/unintelligent we were not able to
perform these exploratory analyses for the analyses excluding White Americans.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 30
Given that both of these outcomes were displayed in multiple years, we had a large
enough sample of participants who identified as Black or some other racial identity to run an
independent analysis excluding White participants. Supporting our hypothesis, and suggesting
that these results are not unique to White Americans attitudes, those who believed in human
evolution (acceptance of homosexuals in life: n = 219, M = 2.59, SD = 0.78; homosexuality is
morally wrong: n = 384, M = 3.50, SD = 1.68) reported significantly more acceptance of
homosexuals in their life F(1, 458) = 10.73, p = .001, partial η2 = .023, 95% C.I. [.004, .056], and
endorsed the belief that homosexuality is morally wrong to a lesser degree, F(1, 821) = 12.92, p
< .001, partial η2 = .015, 95% C.I. [.003, .036], than those who did not believe in human
evolution (acceptance of homosexuals in life: n = 247, M = 2.20, SD = 1.07; homosexuality is
morally wrong: n = 445, M = 4.06, SD = 1.27).
Table 3.
One-way ANCOVAs for the Comparison of Belief/Disbelief in Human Evolution on All Outcomes,
While Controlling for Key Covariates in the GSS Samples of 2006-2018.
Outcome Measure
(GSS Name)
Believes in
human
evolution
Does not believe
in human
evolution
F
p
η2
M
SD
M
SD
1. Gov. should help Blacks (helpblk)
12.78
< .001
0.092
1.65
0.63
1.48
0.6
2. Blacks overcome prejudice without
favors (wrkwayup)
13.58
< .001
0.151
3.74
1.29
4.18
1.04
3. Affirmative action for Blacks
(affrmact)
12.31
< .001
0.074
1.75
0.96
1.5
0.79
4. Whites not hurt by affirmative action
(discaff)
15.28
< .001
0.061
2.32
0.67
2.08
0.69
5. Total Affirmative Action
(#2 - #4)
28.37
< .001
0.107
0.13
0.91
-0.2
0.78
6. How close feel to Blacks (closeblk)
0.52
0.472
-
5.64
1.79
5.7
1.97
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 31
7. Close relative marry Black (marblk)
20.8
< .001
0.045
3.24
1.02
2.95
1.19
8. Improving conditions of Blacks
(“natrace”)
0.07
0.785
-
1.2
1.79
1.31
1.95
9. Assistance to Blacks (“natracey”)
2.96
0.085
0.002
1.38
2.06
1.45
2.08
10. Neighborhood half Black (liveblk)
0.06
0.801
-
3.09
0.92
3.09
0.96
11. Blacks are: hard working lazy
(workblks)
0.21
0.648
-
3.85
0.96
3.78
1.05
12. Blacks are: unintelligent intelligent
(intlblks)
0.91
0.340
-
4.23
0.87
4.25
0.96
13. How close feel to Whites (closewhts)
4.36
0.037
0.011
6.40
2.25
5.98
2.14
14. Close relative marry White (marwhts)
1.44
0.230
-
3.83
1.00
3.79
1.03
15. Whites are: hard working
lazy (workwhts)
0.03
0.866
-
4.32
1.21
4.37
1.37
16. Whites are: unintelligent
intelligent (intlwhts)
0.40
0.527
-
4.71
1.22
4.71
1.30
17. Total attitudes towards immigrants
4.05
0.045
0.016
0.04
0.54
-0.24
0.65
18. Homosexuality is wrong (homosex)
80.74
<.001
0.018
3.23
1.82
3.94
1.34
19. Acceptance of homosexuals
(libhomo, spkhomo, colhomo)
46.91
< .001
0.018
2.73
0.68
2.31
1.04
Note. *p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001. For outcomes focusing on immigrants and LGBTQ,
participants who identified as Black or some other race were also included. In these analyses, we
controlled for participants’ race by coding as Black = 1, Other = 0.
Discussion
In support of our hypothesis, our findings indicated that when controlling for education
level, religiosity, conservative political beliefs, family income and gender, the belief that humans
evolved from animals was consistently associated with less prejudice, less racist attitudes and
less support for discriminatory behaviors. Although these associations had a relatively weak
effect size, given that these associations were found across different prejudicial attitudes, this
trend suggests that this effect seems to be generally robust. Importantly, this association also
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 32
emerged when excluding White Americans from our analyses (in the 2006-2018 samples for
attitudes towards LGBTQ), suggesting that believing in human evolution relates to less prejudice
even for minority groups (in this case Black Americans and participants from other races).
Moreover, when testing alternative explanations (such as general knowledge about
whether bacteria can cause viruses), or other attitudes towards animals (support for animal rights,
and support for animal testing) the results also supported our hypothesis (see Supplementary
Materials), showing that it the disbelief in human evolution is the driving factor and most
consistent predictor of prejudice in comparison to other relevant constructs. These findings
support the notion that a lesser perception of the human-animal divide, which was expressed in
this investigation as disbelief in human evolution, above and beyond political views, religiosity,
or gender, predicts lower outgroup-directed prejudice. Importantly, these results were not
significant for attitudes towards Asians (M = 3.00, SD = 0.95) and Hispanics (M = 3.14, SD =
0.97). One potential explanation is that there was significantly less prejudice expressed towards
these racial groups relative to Blacks (M = 3.51, SD = 1.03). A paired sample t-test for each
comparison supported this claim: for Blacks vs Asians: t = 15.91, p < .001; for Blacks vs
Hispanics: t = 13.48, p < .001. Nevertheless, this inconsistency in our results limits the
generalizability of our hypothesis to all racial minorities in the United States.
Study 2: Eastern Europe
Study 2 focused on data collected by the Pew Research Center in the following 19
Eastern European countries: Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia,
Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova,
Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine. Thus, the sample for these analyses was primarily
Christian, with orthodoxy as the largest denomination. Our aim was to examine if across the
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 33
different Eastern European countries, belief in human evolution predicts negative attitudes
towards different outgroups that were relevant to the geographic context and available in the
survey.
Method
Participants
Detailed demographic information for Study 2 can be found in Table 4. Across the 19
Eastern European countries 21,827 participants, who were Christian and citizens of their nations,
were included (11,180 females). The average age was 48.80 years (SD = 17.72). The total
number of participants from each country is available at in the Supplementary Materials.
Materials and Procedure
A detailed description of the materials and the procedure is available on the Pew
Research Website (Pew Research Center, 2016). Below we provide details about our main
predictor variable of belief in human evolution, the potential covariates, and outcome variables
(attitudes towards outgroups). Throughout our coding, we aimed to keep all the outcome
variables framed such that higher scores indicate higher endorsement of each specific statement.
Belief in human evolution from animals. In all the Pew data, belief in human evolution
was measured with a more direct item, capturing the belief that humans evolved from animals
with the statement: Thinking about evolution, which comes closer to your view?” with answers
being 1 = Humans and other living things have evolved over time or “0 = Humans and other
living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”
Negative attitudes towards outgroups. Support of prejudice was measured by
examining attitudes towards outgroups. Given that we only included participants who were
citizens of each respective country, and Christian Orthodox in their religion, these outgroups
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 34
were: (1) Roma; (2) Jews; (3) Catholics; (4) Muslims. For each group, three questions were
asked: (a) Would you be willing to accept the outgroup as members of your family? (b) Would
you be willing to accept the outgroup as neighbors? (c) Would you be willing to accept the
outgroup as citizens of our country? Answers were dichotomous, recorded in a Yes/No fashion.
For each group we created a composite score by summing the three answers. Thus scores ranged
on a scale of 0-3. We considered the acceptance of outgroups as a face valid measure of
prejudice, as studies have shown that prejudice and acceptance of outgroups are closely related
constructs (e.g., Kuntsman et al., 2013). Detailed information about the measures of Study 2 can
be found in Table 5. Other measures in the study focused mostly on an individual’s religion and
thus did not fit our search for items capturing prejudice or its correlates.
Attitudes towards LGBTQ homosexuality. Three items pertained to beliefs and
attitudes towards homosexuality.
4
Two of these were dichotomous, and focused on whether
homosexuality is morally wrong whether it should be accepted by society, for both items
answers were coded as “1 = yes”, “0 = no.” One item captured support for the legalization of
same sex marriage, with responses ranging from “1 = strongly oppose” to “4 = strongly favor.”
Table 4.
Sample Characteristics Studies 2-4.
Sample
Eastern Europe
Muslim countries
Israel
Year conducted
2015-2016
2012-2013
2015
N countries
19
25
1
N total used participants
21,827
28,004
3,562
N female participants
11,180
14,706
1834
Mean age (SD)
48.80 (17.72)
37.17 (13.96)
43.37 (16.44)
Mean religious importance (SD)
3.07 (0.82)
3.60 (0.68)
2.92 (1.09)
4
Importantly, for Studies 2 and 3 no question was included assessing participants sexual orientation. Thus, we were
not able to conduct analyses pertaining to attitudes towards the LGBTQ community solely for heterosexual
individuals. Importantly, in a survey of 27 countries conducted by IPSOS in 2021, 80% of the population across all
countries was heterosexual, thus we are led to believe that the largest part of our sample in Studies 2 and 3 would
also likely be heterosexual.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 35
Mean religious attendance (SD)
3.16 (1.25)
3.53 (2.02)
3.38 (1.96)
Believe in human evolution
13,3660
14,107
1,598
Dont believe in human evolution
8,029
11,807
1,964
Excluded
(Not sure about human evolution)
2,130 (9%)
3,081 (11%)
129 (3%)
Note. The belief in human evolution question was not displayed to all participants which results
in differing degrees of freedom in our analyses. In all studies, only the participants who were part
of the religious majority were included in the analyses. Participants who were unsure about the
theory of human evolution were excluded from our analyses primarily because this group was
very small in Studies 2-4
Table 5.
All the measures included in the current investigation across Studies 2-4.
Variable name
N items
a
Scale
Example item
Study 2: Eastern Europe (Ncountries = 19)
1. Acceptance of Roma
3
0.80
0-3
Would you accept Roma as members of
your family?
2. Acceptance of Catholics
3
0.79
0-3
Would you accept Catholics as members
of your family?
3. Acceptance of Muslims
3
0.85
0-3
Would accept Muslims as members of
your family?
4. Acceptance of Jews
3
0.79
0-3
Would accept Jews as members of your
family?
5. Acceptance of outgroups
4
0.78
0-3
Average of the items 1-4
6. Acceptance of homosexuality
1
na
dichotomous
Homosexuality should be accepted by
society
7. Homosexuality as a moral issue
1
na
dichotomous
Homosexuality is morally wrong (reverse
coded)
8. Same sex marriage should be legal
1
na
1-4
Do you favor allowing gays and lesbians to
marry legally?
Study 3: Muslim countries (Ncountries = 25)
1. Children marrying Christians
2
0.85
1-5
How comfortable would you be if a son of
yours someday married a Christian?
2. Friends are only Muslim
1
na
1-5
How many of your close friends are
Muslims?
3. Participating in inter-faith groups
1
na
dichotomous
Do you ever participate in inter-faith
religious groups/meetings with Christians?
4. Support of suicide bombing
1
na
dichotomous
Is suicide bombing and other forms of
violence against civilian targets justified?
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 36
5. Support of death penalty
1
na
dichotomous
Do you favor the death penalty for people
who leave the Muslim religion?
6. Homosexuality is morally acceptable
1
na
dichotomous
Do you personally believe homosexual
behavior is morally acceptable?
Study 4: Israel
1. Expelling Arabs
1
na
1-4
Arabs should be expelled or transferred
from Israel.
2. Preferential treatment for Jews
1
na
1-4
Jews deserve preferential treatment in
Israel.
3. Friends are only Jewish/Muslim
1
na
1-5
How many of your close friends are
Jewish/Muslim?
4. Peace for Israel and Palestine
1
na
dichotomous
Israel and an independent Palestinian
state could coexist peacefully?
5. Child marries Muslim
1
na
1-4
How comfortable would you be if a child
of yours someday married a Muslim?
6. Child marries Christian
1
na
1-4
How comfortable would you be if a child
of yours someday married a Christian?
7. Child marries Jew
1
na
1-4
How comfortable would you be if a child
of yours someday married a Jew?
8. Child marries outgroup
2
0.68
1-4
Average of the items 5 and 6
9. Conservative political beliefs
1
na
1-6
Left to right continuum (1 = Left; 6 =
Right)
Common items across studies
1. (Dis)belief in human evolution
1
na
dichotomous
Humans and other things have/have not
evolved over time
2. Importance of Religion
1
na
1-4
How important is religion in your life?
3. Religious attendance
1
na
1-6
Excluding religious holidays, how often do
you attend religious services?
Results
Our analysis was conducted in two steps. First, to examine our hypothesis across
countries we estimated multilevel models. Then, we examined the hypothesis within each
country by conducting regressions and ANCOVA tests. We then estimated meta-analyses to get
an overall effect based on the findings of each individual country. We are briefly presenting
these results below and provide a detailed account of the tests focusing on each individual
country in the Supplementary Materials. For both types of analyses, we incorporated the sample
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 37
weights created by the Pew Research Center (“final_weight”). All multilevel models were
estimated in Mplus version 8 (Muthén & Muthén, 2017). The four measures relevant to
outgroups (acceptance of: Jews, Muslims, Roma, and Catholics) were averaged in one
parsimonious construct (a = .78). Given that individuals did not vary by year (but by country), a
level two organizational model was employed. In each model we included the weights provided
by the Pew Research Center, by utilizing the “weight is” command in Mplus, and by utilizing an
MLR estimator. For each multilevel comparison, we first estimated an unconditional model. We
then estimated a second model with the predictor variable included, and a final model with all
the control variables. To be parsimonious and avoid repetition, we report the final model which
constitutes the more stringent test of our hypothesis. For all of our variables, variability at the
unconditional model at the country level was significant. This is also supported by the Intraclass
Correlation (ICC) as they ranged from .087 to .331, necessitating a multilevel approach. Thus,
for an individual i in country j the equation for the final model was:
Outcome = γ00 + γ10*Belief in Human Evolutionij + γ20*Importance of Religioniij + γ30*Religious
Attendanceij + γ40*Ageij + γ50*Genderij+ γ60*Years of Educationij + u0j + u1j + rij
Multilevel Models
Acceptance of outgroups. Multilevel regression results for Study 2 are displayed in
Table 6. Controlling for all covariates we found that across all respondents, those believed in
human evolution were more accepting of outgroups in comparison to those who did not believe
in human evolution (γ10 = .133, SE = .02, p < .001).
5
5
Results are significant when subjecting each the composite score for each of the four outgroups (e.g., Jews,
Muslims, Catholics, Roma) as an outcome in a multilevel model while controlling for the same covariates. Results
for each of these models are presented in the Supplementary Materials.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 38
Attitudes towards homosexuality. Controlling for all covariates, those who believed
that humans evolved from animals considered homosexuality as more socially acceptable (γ10 =
.480, SE = .07 p < .001, Odds Ratio = 1.62 95% C.I. [1.40, 1.86]), and expressed more support of
the legalization of same sex marriage (γ10 = .064, SE = .03, p = .040). Further, they were more
likely to believe that homosexuality is morally acceptable (γ10 = .554, SE = .08, p < .001, Odds
Ratio = 1.74, 95% C.I. [1.50, 2.02]).
Table 6.
Hierarchical Linear Models for the Effect of Belief in Human evolution (0 = Disbelief of human
evolution, 1 = Belief in Human evolution), on the Different Outcomes Across All Countries.
Outgroup
acceptance
Homosexuality
is socially
acceptable
Homosexuality
is morally
acceptable
Same sex
marriage
should be legal
Effect (SE)
Effect (SE)
Effect (SE)
Effect (SE)
Intercept/Threshold
(Outcome variable) γ00
1.682 (.06) ***
2.040 (.29) ***
3.093 (.22) ***
1.535 (.08) ***
Belief in human evolution γ10
.133 (.02) ***
.554 (.07) ***
.480 (.07) ***
.064 (.03) *
Importance of religion γ20
-.009 (.02)
-.364 (.07) ***
-.261 (.04) ***
-.116 (.03) ***
Religious attendance γ30
-.011 (.01)
-.123 (.05) ***
-.104 (.04) **
-.014 (.01)
Age γ40
-.001 (.02)
-.027 (.01) ***
-.022 (.01) ***
-.007 (.01) ***
Gender γ50
-.016 (.01) *
-.285 (.04) ***
-.248 (.03) ***
-.059 (.01) ***
Years of education γ60
.007 (.01) ***
.012 (.01) ***
.013 (.01) *
.004 (.01) *
Residual Variances
Variance individual
.731 (.04) ***
--
--
.563 (.06) ***
Variance country
.073 (.02) **
1.265 (.41) **
1.866 (.51) ***
.133 (.04) **
Intraclass correlation (ρ)
.087
.262
.331
.181
Note. indicates a dichotomous outcome variable for which a multilevel logistic regression was
computed. Gender was coded as: male = 1, female = -1. All linear predictors were grand-mean
centered. Fixed effects were estimated for all predictors. * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 39
Country-Specific Analyses
Acceptance of outgroups. The results of each country’s ANCOVA yielded a significant
effect in the expected direction for 10 out of the 19 countries, with a significant meta-analytical
effect, d = .17, SE = .03, Z = 4.79, p < .001, 95% C.I. [.10, .23].
6
Attitudes towards homosexuality. For support of legalization of same sex marriage, the
results of the ANCOVA’s yielded a significant effect in the expected direction for 8 out of the 19
countries, with a significant meta-analytical effect, d = .14, SE = .05, Z = 2.64, p = .008, 95%
C.I. [.04, .25]. For the dichotomous outcomes (homosexuality is morally acceptable;
homosexuality is socially acceptable) we estimated logistic regression models controlling for the
same covariates. For the belief that homosexuality is morally acceptable, the effect was
significant and in the expected direction for 7 out of the 19, with a non-significant meta-
analytical effect β = .14, SE = .07, p = .054, [-.002, .285]. For the belief that homosexuality is
acceptable, the effect was significant and in the expected direction for 12 out of the 19 countries,
with a significant meta-analytical effect, β = .12, SE = .05, p = .010, [.028, .208].
Discussion
Overall, across 19 Eastern European countries, where Orthodox Christianity was the
main religion, denying the theory of human evolution related to reduced acceptance of outgroups
(Roma, Catholics, Muslims, and Jews), a finding that was significant even after controlling for a
person’s years of education, importance of religion in their lives, age and gender. Further,
consistent results were also observed for the association of not believing in human evolution with
more negative attitudes towards homosexuality. Examining these effects within each country by
conducting ANCOVAs for linear outcomes and logistic regressions for dichotomous outcomes,
6
Meta analyses were conducted with the metafor package in R
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 40
while controlling for the same covariates as in the previous analyses, showed that they emerge in
almost 50% of the nations included in our investigation. These analyses did not reveal any ways
the countries might differ that could explain why the effect was significant in some countries but
not others.
Study 3: Muslim Countries
The third study sought to examine this phenomenon in a sample consisted of Muslim
individuals, to further provide evidence for the generalizability of our hypothesis in an additional
non-Western sample. We focused on data collected by the Pew Research Center in the following
25 Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon,
Malaysia, Morocco
7
, Niger, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand,
Tunisia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. The sample for these analyses was exclusively Muslim. Our
aim again was to examine if belief/disbelief in human evolution predicts prejudice towards
outgroups and towards homosexuality.
Method
Participants
Detailed demographic information for Study 3 can be found in Table 4. Across the 25
Muslim countries 28,004 participants were included, all of which were Muslim (14,706 of which
were female). The average age was 37.17 years (SD = 13.96), and the average level of religiosity
was: M = 3.60, SD = 0.68 (on a 1-4 scale). The total number of participants from each country is
available at the Pew Research Website (Pew Research Center, 2012).
Materials and Procedure
7
For reasons unknown to the research team, the Pew Research Center has not provided an item capturing
educational level in Morocco.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 41
A detailed description of the materials and the procedure is available on the Pew
Research Website (Pew Research Center, 2012). Below we provide details about our main
predictor variable of belief in human evolution, the potential covariates, and outcome variables
(attitudes towards outgroups).
Belief that humans evolved from animals. The same measure of belief in human
evolution from animals as Study 2 was used.
Negative attitudes towards outgroups. Support of prejudice was measured with two
separate constructs. One, comprised by two items was similar to Study 2 and examined how
comfortable respondents felt about their daughter and son marrying someone who was Christian.
The other, focused on their own self, asking how many of their close friends were Muslim. Both
constructs were measured on a 1-5 scale, with higher scores indicating more endorsement of
each statement (i.e. more comfort about one’s children marrying Christians and having
exclusively Muslim friends). One additional variable captured beliefs about how justified suicide
bombing of civilians is (“1 = never justified”, “4 = often justified”). Another item, with a
dichotomous answer choice (1= yes”, “0 = no”) captured beliefs about whether the death
penalty is a suitable punishment for those who leave the Muslim religion.
Negative attitudes towards Homosexuality. A dichotomous item (“1 = yes” and “0 =
no”) captured beliefs about whether homosexuality is morally acceptable. Detailed information
about the measures of Study 3 can be found in Table 5.
Results
A similar analysis plan as Study 2 was employed, with our first stage focusing on the test
of our hypothesis across countries and the second stage within each country. Again, a level two
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 42
organizational model was employed. Thus, for an individual i in country j the equation for the
final model for both outcome variables was:
Outcome = γ00 + γ10*Belief in Human evolutionij + γ20*Importance of Religioniij + γ30*Religious
Attendanceij + γ40*Ageij + γ50*Genderij+ γ60*Stage of Educationij
8
+ u0j + u1j + rij
Multilevel Models
Attitudes towards outgroups. Multilevel regression results for Study 3 are displayed in
Table 7. Across countries, after controlling for all key covariates, no significant association with
acceptance of Christians in one’s family was found (γ10 = .032, SE = .03, p = .321). However,
believing that humans evolved from animals was associated with a lesser likelihood of having
only Muslim friends (γ10 = -.047, SE = .02, p = .005). No significant association was observed
with participation in inter-faith religious groups with Christians or for the justification of suicide
bombing of civilian populations.
Table 7.
Hierarchical Linear Models Belief in human evolution (1 = Belief, 0 = Disbelief), on the Four
Outcomes for the 25 Muslim countries, Controlling Key Covariates.
Accepting
Christians
in Family
Having
exclusively
Muslim Friends
Participating in
inter-faith groups
Suicide
bombing
is justified
Effect (SE)
Effect (SE)
Effect (SE)
Effect (SE)
Intercept/Threshold
(Outcome variable) γ00
1.699 (.09) ***
4.554 (.05) ***
2.64 (.20) ***
1.468 (.08) ***
Belief in human evolution γ10
.032 (.03)
-.047 (.02) **
.137 (.16)
.051 (.04)
Importance of religion γ20
-.300 (.03) ***
.127 (.02) ***
-.053 (.12)
.002 (.02)
Religious attendance γ30
-.016 (.01)
.001 (.01)
.10 (.04) *
.025 (.01) ***
Age γ40
-.001 (.01)
<.001 (.01)
-.001 (.01)
<.001 (.01)
Gender γ50
.021 (.01)
-.010 (.02)
-.022 (.06)
-.007 (.01)
8
Unlike the survey conducted in Eastern Europe (Study 2), for the survey of Muslim countries (Study 3) the Pew
Research Center included measures of education level attainment unique to each country. We were able to create a
score that was encompassing these unique measurements. This score ranged from 1-5 and had the following levels:
1 = no formal education, 2 = (some) primary education, 3 = (some) secondary/high school education, 4 = (some)
undergraduate education, and 5 = graduate education.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 43
Education stage γ60
.043 (.02) *
-.061 (.01) ***
.088 (.16)
-.023 (.01)
Residual Variances
Variance individual
.652 (.07) ***
.348 (.03) ***
--
.654 (.09) ***
Variance country
.156 (.08) *
.062 (.01) ***
.161 (.07) *
.128 (.04) **
Intraclass correlation (ρ)
.231
.189
.044
.165
Note. indicates a dichotomous outcome variable for which a multilevel logistic regression was
computed. Gender was coded as Male = 1, Female = -1. * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001
Attitudes towards homosexuality. For the measure examining whether homosexuality is
morally acceptable, the vast majority of the sample (n = 23,352, namely 97%) considered
homosexuality to be unacceptable. Therefore, we collapsed across countries, and calculated the
percentage of people who considered homosexuality acceptable or unacceptable based on
whether they endorsed the theory of human evolution or not. A chi square test showed that a
significance difference was observed for those who considered homosexuality to be morally
acceptable (χ2 (1) = 5.78, p = .016, Cramer’s V =.02). In detail, for those considered
homosexuality as morally unacceptable, 46.32% (n = 8526.65) also did not believe that humans
evolved from animals, while 53.68% believed that humans evolved from animals (n = 9982.76).
However, for those who considered homosexuality to be morally acceptable, 41.23% did not (n=
236.16), while 58.77% believed that humans evolved from animals (n = 308.60).
Country-Specific Analyses
Attitudes towards outgroups. For each outcome, an ANCOVA controlling for the
importance same covariates as the multilevel models was estimated. For the tendency to have
only Muslim friends, the effect was significant and in the expected direction in 7 out of the 23
countries, with a small meta-analytic effect emerging in line with our hypothesis, d = -.13, SE =
.03, Z = -4.20, p < .001, 95% C.I. [-.18, -.07]. For the belief that children can marry outgroup
members, the effect was significant in 7 out of the 22 countries, and once again a small meta-
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 44
analytical effect emerged, supporting our hypothesis, d = .11, SE = .06, Z = 1.97, p = .049, 95%
C.I. [.001, .22]. For the belief that suicide bombing is justified a mixed pattern of results
emerged. The effect was significant in the expected direction for 3 out of the 21 countries, and
the meta-analytical effect was not significantly different from zero. For the question focusing on
favoring the death penalty, the ICC was exceptionally high (ICC = .514) which suggested that
the scores on the outcome were largely dependent on the specific country for which we chose to
analyze this variable. This effect was significant and in the expected in 4 out of the 21 countries,
with no significant meta-analytical effect observed.
9
Discussion
Study 3 conceptually replicated the findings of Studies 1 and 2 with regards to the
association between belief in human evolution and expression of prejudice. It did so by
investigating the association of disbelief in evolution with decreased acceptance of Christians by
Muslims, and with the tendency to only have Muslim friends. When testing our hypothesis
within each country, the most consistent results were observed for attitudes towards the death
penalty, and beliefs about intergroup relations (having only Muslim friends, wanting children not
to marry outgroup members). The results did not support our hypothesis in regard to support for
suicide bombings across countries. This null finding is less surprising considering that the
phenomenon of suicide bombing is not prevalent in all of the countries investigated, and that
such political violence might relate to various causes and factors. Interestingly, however, among
the countries with the highest support for suicide bombing, the effect was in the hypothesized
direction for Palestine, but in the opposite direction for Afghanistan. Thus, more research is
9
Analyses for Morocco did not include education as a covariate as that variable was not included in the data file.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 45
needed to understand the relationship between these variables, and perhaps focusing more on the
specific history and geopolitical dynamics in different countries.
Even though our results overall supported the hypothesis, there was considerable
variability across countries that we cannot currently explain, and future research is needed to
explore potential differences between these countries. Still, the overall finding and, the fact that
our sample was nationally representative, and differed culturally and in terms of its religion from
the samples from Studies 1 and 2, provided additional support for our research hypothesis.
Study 4: Israel
Study 4 focused on data collected by the Pew Research Center in Israel. The sample for
these analyses was exclusively Israeli. Our aim was to examine if belief in human evolution from
animals can predict prejudice and attitudes towards peace and conflict resolution with regards to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among Israelis.
Method
Participants
Detailed demographic information for Study 4 can be found in Table 4. For the purposes
of our investigation, we only retained respondents who were Jewish in their nationality, ethnicity
and religion. Thus, 3,562 participants were included (1,834 of which were female). The average
age was 43.37 years (SD = 16.44), and the average level of religiosity was: M = 2.92, SD = 1.09
(on a 1-4 scale).
Materials and Procedure
A detailed description of the materials and the procedure is available on the Pew
Research Website (Pew Research Center, 2015). Below we provide details about our main
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 46
predictor variable of belief in human evolution, the potential covariates, and outcome variables
(attitudes towards outgroups).
Belief that humans evolved from animals. The same measure of belief in human
evolution as Studies 2 and 3 was used and coded in an identical manner.
Negative attitudes towards outgroups. Support of prejudice was measured with
multiple constructs. First explicit prejudicial attitudes were captured with two separate items.
One focused on the expulsion of Arabs from Israel (“Arabs should be expelled or transferred from
Israel.”), which was captured on a 1-4 scale with higher scores indicating stronger support for the
expulsion of Arabs. The second item captured support for the preferential treatment of Jews
(“Jews deserve preferential treatment in Israel.”), which was also captured on a 1-4 scale with
higher scored indicating more ingroup bias. A third item was similar to Study 3, and captured the
tendency to have only Jewish friends (on a 1-5 scale, with higher scores indicating having
exclusively Jewish friends). The final measure capturing attitudes towards outgroups was the
average of two items, focusing on how comfortable respondents would be if their child was
married to a Christian, or to a Muslim (ranging from “1 = not at all comfortable”, to “4 = very
comfortable”).
Attitudes towards conflict resolution. One item captured respondent’s attitudes towards
conflict resolution with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (“Israel and an independent
Palestinian state could coexist peacefully?”). This item was dichotomous (Yes/No format), with
higher scores expressing more support for peace/conflict resolution between the two groups. No
questions focusing on attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals were included in the survey.
Results
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 47
To provide the most stringent test of our hypothesis, in all comparisons we controlled for
the effect of conservative political beliefs, education, the importance of religion in one’s life, as
well as religious attendance. Further, we employed the weights provided by the Pew Research
Center (“final_weight”) by using the weight sub-command in SAS.
Preferential Treatment for Jews
When controlling for all aforementioned covariates, individuals who believed that
humans evolved from animals were less supportive of preferential treatment of Jews: F(3, 3321)
= 20.39, p < .001, partial η2 = .006, 95% CI [.002, .012].
Having Exclusively Jewish Friends
Controlling for the same covariates, we also found a significant effect of disbelief in
human evolution from animals on the tendency to have exclusively Jewish friends, with those
who did not believe in human evolution being more likely to have friends who were exclusively
Jewish: F(3, 3336) = 13.75, p < .001, partial η2 = .004, 95% CI [.001, .010].
Expulsion of Arabs from Israel
Once more, after controlling for political conservatism and the importance of religion,
individuals who did not believe that humans evolved from animals expressed greater support for
expelling Arabs from Israel: F(3, 3186) = 10.04, p = .001, partial η2 = .003, 95% CI [.001, .008].
Accepting outgroups into one’s family
A final ANCOVA controlling for the same covariates found no significant difference
being more comfortable with one’s children marriying an outgroup member (p = 115).
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 48
Figure 1.
Mean Differences for the Outcome Variables for those who Believed and did not Believe in
Human Evolution from Animals in the Israeli Sample.
Note. Error bars depict +/- 1 S.E. from the mean. Numbers within each bar depict the mean
score. *** p .001
Support for Peace
To examine the effect of belief in human evolution from animals and support for peace,
we computed a logistic regression model with support for peace between Israel and Palestine
(dichotomous variable; 1 = supporting peace) regressed on belief in human evolution while
controlling the same covariates. This analysis showed that those who believed that humans
evolved from animals supported peace more than those who do not: Wald χ2 = 12.69, β = .10, SE
= .10 p < .001, 95% CI [1.17, 1.71].
Effects for Specific Jewish Denominations
In an effort to more closely differentiate between belief in human evolution from animals
and religiosity, we explored the aforementioned effects specifically within different Jewish
2.89
4.81
3.53
1.05
2.26
4.58
2.97
1.24
1
2
3
4
5
Expelling Arabs Having Only
Jewish Friends Preferential
Treatment for Jews Child Marrying
Outgroup
Mean Score
Disbelief in Evolution Belief in Evolution
***
***
***
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 49
denominations. In particular, the survey included data for four Jewish denominations: (1)
orthodox (Haredi); (2) religious (Dati); (3) traditional (Masorti); (4) secular (Hiloni). Because
Orthodox Jews overwhelmingly did not believe in evolution (n = 678) and only 2% of the
denomination (n = 14) expressed belief in human evolution, we removed their responses from
our exploratory analyses. Overall, across all (included) Jewish denominations, expressing
disbelief in human evolution consistently related to greater support for preferential treatment of
Jews and for the expulsion of Arabs.4 Detailed results can be observed in Table 8.
10
Table 8.
Comparisons of Individuals Who Believed and did not Believe in Human Evolution from
Animals, for Specific Denominations.
Secular (Hiloni; n = 1500)
Belief in human
evolution
(N = 1225)
Disbelief in human
evolution
(N = 227)
Omnibus effect
M (SD)
M (SD)
Friends are only Jewish
F(1, 1446) = 2.59,
p = .108, η2 = .002
4.58 (0.53)
4.63 (0.52)
Preferential treatment for Jews
F(1, 1430) = 22.15,
p < .001, η2 = .015
2.93 (0.93)
3.24 (0.91)
Expulsion of Arabs
F(1, 1386) = 33.73,
p < .001, η2 = .024
2.17 (0.97)
2.59 (1.02)
Child marries outgroup member
F(1, 1432) = 5.59,
p = .018, η2 = .004
1.29 (0.52)
1.20 (0.47)
Support for peace
β = .19, χ2 = 38.35, SE = .15, p < .001
Traditional (Masorti; n = 913)
Belief in human
evolution
(n = 302)
Disbelief in human
evolution
(n = 556)
Friends are only Jewish
F(1, 852) = 37.16,
p < .001, η2 = .042
4.62 (0.51)
4.81 (0.40)
Preferential treatment for Jews
F(1, 848) = 43.89,
p < .001, η2 = .049
3.15 (0.89)
3.52(0.69)
10
Importantly, we did not control for the importance of religion in one’s life, religious attendance, education or an
individual’s political conservatism in these analyses, as being a member of each denomination coincides with these
measures heavily. Further, since these analyses focused on specific groups, we did not utilize the sample weights as
these subgroups were not representative of the population.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 50
Expulsion of Arabs
F(1, 852) = 37.73,
p < .001, η2 = .045
2.48 (0.91)
2.90 (0.91)
Child marries outgroup member
F(1, 805) = 19.83,
p < .001, η2 = .023
1.11 (0.32)
1.03 (0.18)
Support for peace
β = .09, χ2 = 4.68, SE = .15, p = .030
Religious (Dati; N = 577)
Belief in human
evolution
(n = 55)
Disbelief in human
evolution
(n = 503)
Friends are only Jewish
F(1, 553) = 6.10,
p = .014, η2 = .011
4.70 (0.46)
4.84 (0.38)
Preferential treatment for Jews
F(1, 553) = 7.97,
p = .005, η2 = .014
3.43 (0.77)
3.66 (0.57)
Expulsion of Arabs
F(1, 549) = 9.10,
p = .003, η2 = .017
2.67(1.01)
3.08 (0.92)
Child marries outgroup member
F(1, 536) = 3.09,
p = .079, η2 = .006
1.04 (0.19)
1.01 (0.09)
Support for peace
β = .04, χ2 = 0.39, SE = .35, p = .531
Note. The number of participants, and as a consequence the df for each comparison differed.
Given the different number of participants in each group and each comparison, for reasons of
parsimony we report the total sample size of each denomination.
Effects among Israeli Muslims
A small portion of the population (n = 343) identified as Muslim and also responded to
the question about belief in human evolution. Thus, in a more exploratory fashion, we conducted
analyses for two outcomes variables that were relevant to this group, in an effort to determine
whether our analyses are consistent even in non-dominant religious group. Controlling for the
same covariates, we found a significant effect of belief in human evolution from animals on
being comfortable with one’s children marrying an outgroup member, with those who did
believed in human evolution (n = 114, M = 1.67, SD = 0.93) expressing significantly more
comfortability with their child marrying an outgroup member than those who did not believe in
human evolution (n = 219, M = 1.44, SD = 0.82), F(1, 327) = 3.99, p = .047, partial η2 = .012,
95% CI [.00, .04]. No significant effect was observed for having exclusively Muslim friends (p =
.983).
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 51
Discussion
Our hypotheses received extensive support in the Israeli sample, as those who expressed
less belief in human evolution tended to show less favorable outgroup attitudes (having less
outgroup friends, expressing greater support for the expulsion of Arabs). They also expressed
more favorable attitudes towards their ingroup as they were more supportive of preferential
treatment for Jews. Lastly, they also expressed less support for peace between Israelis and
Palestinians. Further, these findings remained significant after controlling for key covariates, and
even when we looked at specific Jewish denominations. In the next studies (we examined
whether our results would replicate when using a more comprehensive measure of belief in
human evolution, as well as the relationship between belief in human evolution and PSSA.
Study 5
Having examined the association between belief in human evolution and prejudice in
diverse and non-WEIRD samples, we attempted to investigate this link with more
comprehensive measures in samples drawn from online platforms, while also using a multi-item
(4-item) scale of belief in human evolution from animals to make it more suitable for parametric
statistical tests. We also sought to expand upon our previous findings by showing that belief in
human evolution from animals relates to less prejudice even when the target outgroup is not a
racial group, and even when it is a fictitious group. To do so, we measured American
participants’ belief in human evolution and measured their attitudes towards different outgroup
targets (Iran, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, and a fictitious nation named “Panemistan”). This study was
not pre-registered.
Method
Participants
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 52
Participants were recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk, a platform which has been
used extensively in psychological research (Buhrmester et al., 2011). CloudResearch was used to
apply checks which ensure better data quality (Litman et al., 2017). The study lasted
approximately 5-7 minutes and provided $0.25 as remuneration for participation.
After excluding participants who were not U.S. American (n = 44), participants who
missed our attention check asking them to drag a slider scale all the way to the left end (n = 10),
as well as participants who were multivariate outliers based on their responses to all measures in
the study (h > .031, n = 12), 499 participants remained in the final sample. In this sample, 210
participants identified as male, 281 as female, and 8 as other/non-binary (Mage = 42.18, SD =
13.61). Further, 385 participants identified as White, 35 as Black, 25 as Asian or Asian
American, 16 as Hispanic or Latino and 13 as multiple races; the remainder of the sample either
did not provide a response or provided an uncodable response.
Materials and Procedure
All measures were administered on 1-9 slider scales, capturing values up to the second
decimal. Belief in human evolution was assessed with four items, three of which were directly
adapted from the surveys conducted by GSS and the Pew Research Center. This measure was
highly reliable (α = .95). Political ideology was also assessed with three items tapping people’s
attitudes towards social, economic and foreign policy issues, with responses ranging from 1 =
liberal/left to 9 = conservative/right (α = .93).
Participants were randomly assigned to one of five conditions. In each of these conditions
they were presented with a target outgroup. These five outgroups were: Iran, Egypt, Qatar,
Turkey and Panemistan (a fictitious country we created for the purposes of the experiment). In
each condition, participants read the following prompt: “The relationship between [outgroup
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 53
country] and the United States has been complex for many years. For the pages that follow, we
are interested in your attitudes towards [outgroup country citizens] and how you think the US
should approach its relationship with [outgroup country]. There are no right or wrong answers.
Please convey your opinion.
Following these instructions, they were presented with a measure of dehumanization (8
items adapted from Leidner et al., 2010; e.g., “Some aspects of [target outgroup] life are typical
of a backward culture”, as ranging from .82 to .88), empathy (9 items adapted from Cameron,
2011; e.g., “How much do you empathize with [target outgroup citizens]?, as ranging from .90
to .92), and conflict attitudes (4 items developed for the current study, e.g., “The United States
should employ a military/diplomatic approach towards [target outgroup]” as ranging from .67 to
.92), presented in random order.
Results
To test our hypothesis we computed bivariate correlations between our measure of belief
in human evolution and the three outcome variables (conflict attitudes, empathy,
dehumanization) for each condition. Overall, significant negative correlations were found for
each outgroup for attitudes towards conflict, such that increased belief that humans evolved from
animals related to less support for conflict. For dehumanization, this association was significant
for 3 out of the five outgroups, and for empathy only for the fictitious country (see Table 9).
Meta-analytical correlation coefficients across the five conditions were calculated by following
the methodology suggested by Goh and colleagues (2016) and evaluated based on
recommendations by Funder and Ozer (2019) and Gignac and Szodorai (2016). For attitudes
towards conflict, a large coefficient was observed, for dehumanization a medium one, and for
empathy a small yet significant coefficient was observed (see Table 9).
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 54
Table 9.
Bivariate and Meta Correlations Between Belief in Human Evolution from Animals and the
Three Outcome Variables for Each Target Outgroup.
Country
Conflict
Dehumanization
Empathy
Iran (n = 104)
-0.33***
-0.14
0.01
Panemistan (n = 93)
-0.54***
-0.34***
0.20***
Egypt (n = 97)
-0.35***
-0.07
0.06
Qatar (n = 105)
-0.28**
-0.25***
0.13
Turkey (n = 100)
-0.28***
-0.19
0.05
Total (n = 499)
-0.35***
-0.19***
0.09***
Meta-analytical
rmean = -.36, SE = .04,
Z = -8.21, p < .001,
95% C.I. [-.43, -.28]
rmean = -.20, SE = .04,
Z = -4.43, p < .001,
95% C.I. [-.28, -.11]
rmean = .09, SE = .04, Z
= 1.96, p = .049, 95%
C.I. [.00, .18]
Note. * p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p < .001
Discussion
The results largely replicated the link between belief in human evolution from animals
and prejudice/intergroup hostility, using a multi-item measure. The findings supported our
hypothesis even for a fictional outgroup. In our next studies we examined the relationship
between belief in human evolution and PSSA, in order to investigate its potential mediating role
in our effects.
Study 6
Study 6 was a pilot study designed to begin to test the relationship between belief and
human evolution from animals and PSSA. Or goal was to test that these constructs are indeed
related but are distinguishable from one another, using the multi-item measure of belief in human
evolution from animals developed in Study 5. Study 6 was not pre-registered.
Method
Participants
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 55
After excluding participants who were not U.S. American (n = 34), participants who
missed our attention check, which was identical to Study 5 (n = 8), as well as participants who
were multivariate outliers based on their responses to all measures in the study (h > .024, n = 4),
509 participants remained in the final sample. The sample included 157 males, 347 females, and
5 who identified as other/non-binary (Mage = 40.99, SD = 13.84). Further, 408 participants
identified as White, 43 as Black, 21 as Asian or Asian American, 25 as Hispanic or Latino, and
12 as another racial/ethnic identity.
Materials and Procedure
This study was a pilot study for a project that aimed to validate stimuli that focused on
people’s perceptions of different objects as art or not. In that survey, we also included the 4-item
measure of belief in human evolution we used in Study 5 (α = .95) and a 3-item measure of
PSSA (adapted from Lifshin et al., 2021; e.g., To what extent do you think about yourself in the
same way that you think about animals?”, a = .89). Political ideology was also measured with the
same items as in Study 5 (α = .93).
Results
Intercorrelation of Belief in Human Evolution from Animal Items
To examine whether the different items employed by the GSS and the Pew Research
Center were correlated and captured the same construct (i.e., belief in human evolution), we
examined their intercorrelation (both in Studies 5 and 6). Overall, each item was strongly
correlated with all other items (all rs > .67, values ranged from .67 to .97). This increased our
confidence about the use of different measures capturing belief in human evolution based on
their availability in the studies conducted by the GSS and the Pew Research Center.
Belief in Human Evolution and Perceived Similarity to Animals
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 56
Seeking to highlight the distinction between belief in human evolution and PSSA, we
first estimated bivariate correlations between the demographic measures in our study and these
two measures. Importantly, belief in human evolution was positively related to education,
weakly negatively related to age, and strongly negatively correlated with conservative political
ideology. Conversely, PSSA was unrelated to education level and age, and negatively related to
income and conservative political ideology, but significantly less so than belief in human
evolution (for Study 5: Fisher’s Z = -6.19, p < .001; for Study 6: Fisher’s Z = -5.38, p < .001).
Crucially, belief in human evolution and PSSA were only moderately and positively correlated
(see Table 10).
Table 10.
Bivariate Correlations Demonstrating Discriminant Validity for Belief in Human Evolution from
Animals and Perceived Similarity to Animals in Study 6 (N = 509).
1
2
3
4
5
6
1. Belief in Human Evolution
2. PSSA
.27***
3. Education level
.16***
-.05
4. Income
.07
-.11*
.34***
5. Age
-.15***
.04
.05
.01
6. Conservative Ideology
-.47***
-.17***
-.01
.08
.14**
Note. * p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p < .001
To further empirically validate our claim that belief in human evolution and PSSA are
distinguishable constructs, we conducted confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) in which the two
constructs were either forced to load onto a single factor (i.e., single-factor solution; χ2(15) =
1786.32, p <.001, CFI = .57, RMSEA = .48, SRMR = .37) or were allowed to freely co-vary as
to factors in a two-factor solution (χ2(12) = 27.32, p = .007, CFI = .99, RMSEA = .03, SRMR =
.05). We evaluated model fit using recommendations by Kline (2016), who states that good
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 57
model fit is evident by a non-significant chi square (although this value is inflated by larger
sample sizes), a CFI ≥ .95, RMSEA ≤ .08 and SRMR ≤ .08. Most importantly for our purposes
here, the two-factor model also provided a significantly better fit to the data, Δχ2(3) = 1759, p <
.001, supporting our expectation that the belief that humans evolved from animals and PSSA are
psychometrically distinguishable constructs.
11
Study 7
Study 7 was conducted to further replicate our findings and also to examine the potential
for PSSA to mediate the association of belief in human evolution from animals with prejudice
(pre-registration link: https://aspredicted.org/PYF_86R). Specifically, we hypothesized that those
who believe that humans evolved as a species from animals would also express greater perceived
similarity to animals, and as a result would be less likely to express prejudicial attitudes. We
analyzed survey data from a large sample of American undergraduate psychology students, with
single-item indexes of PSSA, belief in human evolution and prejudice.
Method
Participants
Data were obtained from a mass survey assessing introductory psychology students’
attitudes and personality traits. Students who completed the survey received credit toward a
departmental research requirement. Per the pre-registration plan, participants with missing data
on the variables of interest (i.e., perceived similarity of self to animals, belief in human
evolution, and prejudice) were excluded.
11
This difference in model fit (Δχ2(3) = 5587.83, p < .001) was also replicated in Study 8 when comparing a the fit
of a single-factor model (χ2(21) = 5666.59, p < .001, CFI = .56, RMSEA = .46, SRMR = .38) to that of a two-factor
model (χ2(18) = 78.76, p < .001, CFI = .99, RMSEA = .05, SRMR = .02) in which PSSA and belief in human
evolution from animals were separate constructs.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 58
The final sample (n = 1,072) was comprised mostly of young adults (Mage = 18.64, SDage
= 2.21; year in college M = 1.37, SD = .78), including 763 females, 292 males, and 17 people
preferring not to self-describe. Participants were mostly White (785 White, 34 Black or African
American, 9 American Indian or Alaska Native, 75 Asian, 1 Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander,
162 “other” or mixed, 6 did not report). Participants were mostly non-Hispanic or Latino
(69.12%) and not of Middle Eastern or North African decent (95.52%).
Materials and Procedure
Participants completed the survey online. After completing basic demographic items
(age, gender, race, ethnicity, year in school), participants responded to measures in the order
described below. Other items unrelated to this research were also included as part of the large
departmental mass survey.
Perceived similarity of self to animals. Participants responded to a single statement
(“Please rate how similar you think you are to other animals”) using a 9-point Likert-type scale
(1 = Not at all similar, 9 = Very similar). A higher score indicates higher perceived similarity of
self to animals (M = 4.90, SD = 2.03). This single-item measure was taken from previous
research (e.g., Lifshin et al., 2017).
Belief in human evolution from animals. Participants rated their agreement with a
single statement (“Human beings developed from earlier species of animals”) using a 7-point
scale (1 = Definitely false, 7 = Definitely true). A higher score indicates greater belief in human
evolution (M = 5.22, SD = 1.90).
Prejudice. Participants responded to two items assessing prejudice. The first item
(“Please select the number that best describes your opinion of Muslims”) was measured on a 7-
point scale (1 = Very unfavorable, 7 = Very favorable). Responses on this item were reverse-
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 59
scored, so that higher scores indicate greater prejudice toward Muslims (M = 2.44, SD = 1.41).
The second item (“As a society, are we spending too little, too much, or about the right amount
of attention and resources on improving conditions for African Americans?”) was measured on a
9-point Likert-type scale (1 = Too little [not enough], 5 = Right amount, 9 = Too much [more
than enough]), such that higher scores indicate greater prejudice toward African Americans (M =
3.39, SD = 2.00).
Demographic variables. Participants were asked, “How would you describe your
political orientation?” and could respond using a 9-point scale (1 = Extremely liberal, 5 =
Neither liberal nor conservative, 9 = Extremely conservative), such that a higher score indicates
greater political conservatism (M = 4.32, SD = 1.87). Participants were also asked, “If you
consider yourself to be religious, how important are your religious beliefs to you?” and could
respond using a 10-point scale (0 = I am not religious, 1 = Not at all important, 9 = Extremely
important), such that higher scores indicate greater importance of religiosity (M = 3.86, SD =
3.30).
Results
Since both prejudice items were moderately correlated (r = .42, p < .001), we computed
the average of the standardized scores of both items to form a single “prejudice” composite.
PSSA was positively correlated with belief in human evolution (r = .28, p < .001). Both PSSA (r
= -.21, p < .001) and belief in human evolution (r = -.23, p < .001) were negatively associated
with the prejudice composite score.
12
These associations remained significant when controlling
for political orientation, religiosity, age and gender (R2 = .27); for PSSA, β = -.11, SE = .01, p <
12
This association was significant for each individual indicator of prejudice, with and without excluding
Black/African American students. These results are presented in the Supplementary Materials.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 60
.001, for belief in human evolution, β = -.08, SE = .02, p = .013 (full results are reported in the
Supplementary Materials).
We then conducted mediation analyses (Model 4) using the PROCESS macro (Hayes,
2013), with 10,000 bootstrapped samples. Belief in human evolution was entered as X, PSSA as
M, and the prejudice index as Y. Results showed that belief in human evolution from animals was
negatively associated with prejudice (β = -.10, SE = .02, p < .001), and positively related to
PSSA (β = .30, SE = .03, p < .001, R2 = .28), which in turn was negatively associated with
prejudice (β = -.08, SE = .01, p < .001, R2 = .27); the indirect effect of belief in human evolution
from animals on prejudice through PSSA was significantly different from zero (indirect effect = -
.02, SE = .01, 95% CI [-.03, -.01]). These associations as well as the indirect effect remained
significant when controlling for the demographic covariates (political ideology, age, gender,
religiosity); belief in human evolution from animals PSSA: β = .26, SE = .04, p < .001, R2 =
.10 (after including covariates); belief in human evolution from animals prejudice: β = -.04,
SE = .02, p = .013; PSSA prejudice: β = -.05, SE = .01, p < .001, R2 = .28 (after including
covariates); indirect effect = -.01, SE < .01, 95% CI [-.02, -.01]. Finally, an alternative model in
which PSSA and belief in human evolution from animals were reversed, such that PSSA is X
and belief in human evolution is M, also elicited significant results for all aforementioned
associations, and the indirect effect, with/without covariates (see Supplementary Materials).
Figure 2.
Mediation Model (Process, Model 4, 10,000 Bootstrapped Samples) with Belief that Humans
Evolved from Animals as X, PSSA as M, and Prejudice as Y, Displaying, With Political Ideology,
Age, Gender (Male = 1, Female = -1, and Religiosity as Covariates.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 61
Note. * p < .05, *** p < .001.
Discussion
Ultimately, in Study 7 we found that both PSSA and belief in human evolution from
animals both had unique and shared variance in explaining prejudicial attitudes. However, our
ability to deduce of a causal model of influence between these variables was limited because the
present data were correlational in nature and considering that there were comparable mediational
(indirect) effects when comparing the alternative causal model in which either PSSA is the
predictor variable. We sought to address this issue in our final study using an experimental
design.
Study 8
In our final study we experimentally manipulated belief in human evolution in an effort
to establish a causal link with increased perceived similarity of oneself to animals, and with
decreased support for prejudice. We posited that it was not likely that we could dramatically
change people's beliefs about the origin of humankind in a single online study, as most adults
probably have fairly firm ideas about this issue. Instead, we theorized that it would be possible
that at least some people may be affected by such a manipulation, and that this would allow us to
assess whether this would increase their PSSA, and whether that would in turn lead to reduced
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 62
prejudicial attitudes towards outgroups. We utilized the measures validated in Studies 5 and 6
and adapted the items from the GSS (Study 1) to capture prejudicial attitudes towards outgroups
among American participants.
Participants
We pre-registered our study on AsPredicted (https://aspredicted.org/HRF_MF4). Data
collection was conducted on MTurk via CloudResearch. Based on a power analysis with an
effect size of f = .10, alpha set to .05, power set to .90, and three groups, a sample size of 1400
people was pre-registered. Participants who were not U.S. American, (n = 73), who missed a
manipulation check (n = 19, see Materials and Procedure section for further details), and were
multivariate outliers (n = 35) participants were excluded). In the final sample, 1279 participants
remained. In this sample 474 participants identified as male, 795 as female, and 10 reported
having a different gender identity (Mage = 43.70; SDage = 14.01). In terms of race, 1032 were
White, 99 Black, 46 Asian, 60 Hispanic, and 42 another race.
Materials and Procedure
Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions. In the human evolution
condition (n = 427), they read a short text (three short paragraphs) describing how humans have
evolved from animals, accompanied by a visual of how humans evolved from our ape ancestors.
In the control condition (n = 407), they read a short text describing the evolution of currency
from coins to paper bills; we selected this topic because it included an evolutionary component
but did not focus on evolution as a species. In the baseline condition (n = 444), participants read
nothing but instead proceeded immediately to the measures following the manipulation check.
13
13
The stimuli used in the experimental and control conditions are available in the Supplementary Materials.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 63
After reading this text, participants in the human evolution and control condition
completed a short manipulation check asking them about what they read (19 participants were
excluded across conditions because their responses did not correspond to what they read).
Participants then completed the same four-item measure of belief in human evolution from
animals as in Studies 5-6, a four-item measure of PSSA, and three measures capturing prejudicial
attitudes towards outgroups, all of which were adapted from the items used in the GSS in Study
1. These were: attitudes towards affirmative action for Blacks/African Americans (5 items),
attitudes towards immigrants (6 items), and attitudes towards LGBTQ (4 items). Political
ideology was captured with an identical measure to that used in Studies 5 and 6. All measures
were administered on 1-9 slider scales and were highly reliable (αs ranging from .84 to .95).
Results
Analytical Plan
We pre-registered two main analyses: (1) A one-way ANOVA with condition as the
independent variable and planned comparisons comparing the evolution condition with the other
two conditions; (2) A path model with condition (Evolution = 1, Control and Baseline = 0) as the
predictor, PSSA as the mediator, and prejudicial attitudes as the outcome to test the indirect
effect of condition on the outcome via increased perceived similarity to animals.
14
We also
estimated an additional path model with condition (Evolution = 1, Control and Baseline = 0) as
the predictor, belief in human evolution and PSSA as mediators, and prejudicial attitudes as the
outcome. Although not pre-registered, this last model is in line with our hypothesis and the
results of Studies 1-5 as well as Study 7.
14
We also pre-registered that we would conduct analyses exclusively for White Americans, however results are
highly similar with/without only retaining White Americans, and thus, we opted to include the full sample in our
analyses. The only difference in these analyses is that the planned comparison of the evolution condition to the
control condition is not significant when excluding BIPOC participants: b = 0.30, SE = 0.19, p = .128.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 64
Main Effects
A main effect of condition was only observed for the belief that humans evolved from
animals (see Table 11). Although we expected a significant effect of condition for PSSA and the
three measures of prejudicial attitudes, no other significant effect was observed (see Table 12 for
means and standard deviations).
In a more exploratory fashion, since we were limited by our small sample size for this
specific analysis, we examined the efficacy of our manipulation for BIPOC participants. Results
were largely similar, with a main effect of condition only emerging for the belief that humans
evolved from animals. Planned comparisons for this effect suggested that the effect was driven
by a significant difference between the evolution condition and the baseline condition (b = 1.19,
SE = .41, p = .005), as well as the combination of both the control and the baseline condition (b =
1.77, SE = .74, p = .017).
Table 11.
Main Effect of Condition and Planned Comparisons for Significant Main Effects.
Outcome Measure
Main Effect
Planned Comparison
Belief that humans evolved from
animals
F(2, 1275) = 6.55, p = .001,
ηp2 = .010, 95% C.I. [.002, .02]
Evolution vs. Control: b = .35, SE = .18, p = .050
Evolution vs. Baseline: b = .63, SE = .17, p <.001
Evolution vs. Other: b = .99, SE = .31, p <.001
Perceived Similarity of Self to Animals
F(2, 1275) = 0.72, p = .488
Prejudice towards LGBTQ
F(2, 1275) = 0.86, p = .424
Prejudice towards Immigrants
F(2, 1275) = 0.08, p = .923
Attitudes towards Affirmative Action
for Blacks
F(2, 1275) = 0.05, p = .950
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 65
Table 12.
Means and Standard Deviations by Condition for the Full Sample and Only for BIPOC
Participants.
Full Sample
Humans
Evolved from
Animals
Similarity
of Self to
Animals
Prejudice
towards
LGBTQ
Affirmative
Action
Attitudes
Prejudice
towards
Immigrants
Condition
N
M
SD
M
SD
M
SD
M
SD
M
SD
Control
407
6.72
2.59
4.81
2.17
2.63
2.07
4.80
2.33
3.85
2.10
Evolution
427
7.07
2.50
4.91
2.18
2.77
2.15
4.85
2.43
3.86
2.13
Baseline
444
6.44
2.68
4.74
2.15
2.81
2.11
4.81
2.17
3.80
1.99
BIPOC
participants
Humans
Evolved from
Animals
Similarity
of Self to
Animals
Prejudice
towards
LGBTQ
Condition
N
M
SD
M
SD
M
SD
Control
76
6.06
2.63
4.73
2.13
2.68
1.88
Evolution
79
6.64
2.69
4.52
2.12
3.10
2.26
Baseline
92
5.45
2.78
4.25
2.08
3.11
2.06
Note. For analyses with BIPOC participants, we only examined attitudes towards non-racial
minorities.
Indirect effects
Our pre-registered indirect effect (Manipulation PSSA Prejudice) was not
significant, as no main effect of condition was observed on PSSA. We then examined if the
manipulation indirectly affected prejudice through participants actual (measured) belief in
human evolution. We also wanted to test, in a more exploratory fashion, if PSSA may then be a
second, sequential mediator subsequent to belief in human evolution (Condition Belief in
Human Evolution from Animals PSSA Prejudice). To this end, we conducted a test for the
indirect and sequential indirect effect of our manipulation using the Process Macro (Model 6),
with 10,000 bootstrapped samples. In this model, condition (Evolution = 1, Control and Baseline
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 66
= 0)
15
was inserted as X, the belief that humans evolved from animals as M1, PSSA as M2, and
prejudice towards outgroups as Y. For reasons of parsimony, we averaged the three indicators of
prejudice into a single construct (a = .80). We also accounted for age, education, and political
ideology (as they were the only variables that related to belief in human evolution from animals,
PSSA, and prejudice).
This analysis showed that the effect of the human evolution condition (relative to the
control and baseline condition) was significant, b = 0.50, SE = .13, p < .001, 95% C.I. [.23, .76],
R2 = .24. Belief in human evolution from animals related to more PSSA, controlling for all
covariates, b = 0.37, SE = .02, p < .001, 95% C.I. [.33, .42], R2 = .30. Both belief in human
evolution from animals, b = -0.09, SE = .01, p = .001, 95% C.I. [-.12, -.06], and PSSA, b = -0.03,
SE = .02, p = .042, 95% C.I. [-.06, -.001], related to less prejudice. The indirect effects of
Condition Belief in Human Evolution from Animals PSSA Prejudice (b = -.01, SE =
.004, 95% C.I. [-.01, -.0001) and Condition Belief in Human Evolution from Animals
Prejudice (b = -.04, SE = .01, 95% C.I. [-.07, -.02]) as well as the total indirect effect (b = -.05,
SE = .02, 95% C.I. [-.08, -.02]) were significant.
Figure 3.
Mediation Model (Process, Model 6, 10,000 Bootstrapped Samples) with Condition (Evolution =
1, Control and Baseline = 0) as X, Belief that Humans Evolved from Animals as M1, PSSA as
M2, and the Prejudice Index as Y, With Political Ideology, Age, and Education Level as
Covariates.
15
We collapsed across conditions as results are similar for the models in which Evolution = 1 and Control = 0 as
well as Evolution = 1 Baseline = 0.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 67
Note. *p < .05, *** p < .001. Dashed arrows depict non-significant associations.
Finally we also estimated a similar indirect effect for BIPOC participants, with the
outcome being attitudes towards LGBTQ. We focused exclusively on attitudes towards LGBTQ
because the other two outcome variables targeted racial outgroups. In this model, the effect of
the human evolution condition (relative to the control and baseline condition) on belief in human
evolution from animals, controlling for all covariates was significant, b = 0.47, SE = .33, p <
.001, 95% C.I. [.11, 1.43], R2 = .22. Belief in human evolution from animals related to more
PSSA, b = 0.43, SE = .05, p < .001, 95% C.I. [.33, .51]. Only belief in human evolution from
animals, b = -0.22, SE = .05, p < .001, 95% C.I. [-.32, -.11], but not PSSA, b = -0.00, SE = .06, p
= .955, 95% C.I. [-.13, .12], related to less prejudice. Only the indirect effects via belief in
human evolution from animals (Condition Belief in Human Evolution from Animals
Prejudice towards LGBTQ), b = -.17, SE = .08, 95% C.I. [-.34, -.03], and the total indirect effect,
b = -.17, SE = .08, 95% C.I. [-.33, -.02], were significant.
Discussion
In Study 8 we sought to test if experimentally manipulating belief in human evolution
from animals would reduce prejudice. We also examined the mediating role of PSSA in the
effect. Findings indicated that our manipulation only had a small effect on participants’ belief in
human evolution and that it did not directly increase PSSA or reduce prejudice. However, our
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 68
secondary analyses indicated that there was a statistically significant indirect effect in which our
post-manipulation increase in belief in human evolution was related to less prejudice.
Furthermore, there was also a small but statistically significant sequential indirect effect, in
which changes in post-manipulation beliefs in human evolution from animals were associated
with prejudice through PSSA.
There are three reasons that might explain why we did not observe significant differences
in PSSA and prejudice across conditions. First, our manipulation focused primarily on the theory
of human of evolution, rather than the specific component of that theory which focuses on how
humans evolved from a common animal ancestor. Second, scores on two of our outcome
measures were overall relatively low (prejudice towards LGBTQ: M = 2.74, SD = 2.11;
prejudice towards immigrants: M = 3.84, SD = 2.07); transforming these variables to account for
the skewness does not change these results. And finally, we did not include a general measure of
belief in evolution before our manipulation, which could be a potentially key moderator of our
hypothesized effect. Perhaps it might have been especially important to include such a pre-
measure in order to examine the effect of this manipulation on people who are unsure of their
beliefs to begin with, considering that they are more likely to be affected by this type of
manipulation. Future efforts to improve this manipulation should take such factors into account.
Despite these limitations, especially with respect to establishing a clear cause-and-effect
relationship, our hypothesis did receive support by the fact that believing that humans evolved
from animals and PSSA related to less prejudice, and by the abovementioned statistically
significant indirect and sequential indirect effects. Thus, although the manipulation was not
highly effective, as the belief in human evolution constitutes a core belief for many, changes in
belief in human evolution after the manipulation were associated with increased PSSA and
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 69
decreased prejudice. This link was also observed, to some degree, for non-dominant groups (in
this case BIPOC participants) towards other outgroups. The presence of an indirect effect
without a direct effect of the manipulation also suggests the possibility that the pro-evolution
induction may have affected some unmeasured suppressor variable that worked in the opposite
direction of its tendency to indirectly decrease prejudice.
General Discussion
The current set of studies tested the hypothesis that believing that human beings evolved
from animals, relates to (decreased) human-to-human prejudice and discrimination and negative
attitudes towards various outgroups. In Study 1, we tested and found support for this hypothesis
using data from the American GSS (Smith et al., 1972-2018). Across all the years in which a
measure of belief in human evolution was included, it was consistently associated with less
prejudice, less racist attitudes and decreased support for discriminatory behaviors against blacks
and other minorities among white and presumably primarily heterosexual Americans. These
results held when controlling for measures of religiosity, level of education and political views,
and were not explained by other measures related to common knowledge, or attitudes towards
animal rights (see Supplementary Materials). In Studies 2-4, we further tested if belief in human
evolution predicted ingroup bias and negative attitudes towards outgroups in nationally
representative samples of 45 countries obtained from the Pew Research Center, including data
collected from Eastern Europe (19 countries), Muslim countries (25 countries), and Israel. In
support of the hypothesis, belief in human evolution was mostly-consistently associated with
decreased discrimination towards outgroups, a finding that held even after controlling for key
demographic characteristics, such as religiosity and conservative political beliefs. In Study 4,
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 70
Israelis who believe in human evolution were more likely to support a peaceful resolution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict compared to those did not believe.
In Study 5, we conceptually replicated and extended these findings in an online sample,
using improved measures of belief in human evolution. In support of our hypothesis, American
participants’ belief in the notion that humans evolved from animals related to less negative
attitudes and dehumanization towards and more willingness to engage in diplomacy with various
outgroup nations (Iran, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and a fictitious nation named “Panemistan”). In
Study 6 we began to examine the relationship between belief in human evolution from animals
and PSSA and found that they are clearly distinguishable constructs. In Study 7, we again
replicated the link between belief in human evolution and prejudice (among American
undergraduate students) and found partial evidence for the mediating role of PSSA in explaining
this link. Finally, in Study 8 we attempted to experimentally manipulate belief in human
evolution and then examined its effect on actual beliefs in human evolution from animals, PSSA
and prejudice towards various outgroups. Findings partially supported our hypothesis, since
although our manipulation did not directly increase PSSA or directly reduce prejudice, it did so
indirectly through changes in participants’ reported beliefs in human evolution from animals.
Thus, although the manipulation itself did not prove to be effective, there is evidence to suggest
that for those people who were convinced by it, prejudice was reduced. Furthermore, we also
found a small sequential indirect effect in which our manipulation increased belief in human
evolution, which was related to more PSSA, which in turn was related to less prejudice.
Importantly, our findings held when controlling for religiosity, level of education, and other
demographic variables such as age, gender, or political ideology. In each of the samples, the
relationships we observed were, for the most part, also present among participants from non-
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 71
dominant groups when the dependent variables did not focus on attitudes toward their own
ingroup.
Overall these findings suggest that beliefs that humans and animals have a shared
evolutionary origin, and the perception that humans are animals, seem to be consistently related
with prejudice in general, racist attitudes, and negative attitudes towards outgroups. These
findings were generalized across different cultures (the U.S., Eastern Europe, Muslim countries,
Israel) and religions (e.g., Christianity, Islam, Judaism). Thus, despite the fact that Darwin’s
theory of evolution has been historically (mis)used to perpetuate racism and justify
discrimination (e.g., Weikart, 2009, 2004), the basic belief that human beings have evolved from
other animals is an important correlate of racism, prejudice and negative intergroup attitudes.
Theoretical Implications
Our findings are consistent with recent theory and research on perceived similarity of the
self to animals (PSSA) and human-to-human prejudice (e.g., Costello & Hodson, 2010; Caviola
et al., 2019; Dhont et al., 2019; masked for review). From the perspective of SIT (Brewer, 2007;
Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000; Hornsey & Hogg, 2000; Tajfel & Turner, 1986), individuals who
believe that humans evolved from animals may have a wider definition of their ingroup identity
because they believe that all human beings share the same evolutionary backgrounds. This more
inclusive sense of common group identity may then increase empathy and positive attitudes
towards outgroups and minorities (e.g., Caviola et al., 2019; Costello & Hodson, 2010; Crimston
et al., 2016; Dhont et al., 2019).
According to the terror management perspective, because cultural worldviews push
people to distant themselves from other animals and thereby reduce their existential concerns
(e.g., Goldenberg et al., 2000), individuals who do not believe that humans evolved from animals
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 72
might be more motivated to disassociate from animals by further investing in their cultural
worldviews for terror management. This in turn might make them less tolerant and more
prejudiced towards people from other cultures and individuals who do not belong to their cultural
worldview, that is, those of a different race, ethnicity, nationality, or sexual orientation.
Applied Implications
Beyond extending our understanding of the role of belief in human evolution from
animals in mitigating prejudice and racism, these findings may be important in developing
interventions (e.g. in education) that may teach people to think of their connections to animals in
order to reduce human-to-human prejudice. For example, future research may test if teaching
children about the theory of evolution, with a particular focus on our development from a
common animal ancestor, over time directly changes their perceptions of outgroup members. But
of course, we cannot recommend such an intervention based on our correlational findings, and
future studies may test these hypotheses experimentally, using improved and more focused
manipulations to change people’s beliefs. Although some research does suggest that decreasing
the “human-animal divide” by increasing the perceived similarity of humans and other animals
may indeed reduce racial prejudice (e.g., Bastian et al., 2012; Costello & Hodson, 2010), and
despite the fact that we did find an indirect effect of our own manipulation on prejudice through
changes in beliefs in human evolution (Study 8), we still do not have strong and conclusive
evidence regarding the causal effect of learning about the Darwinian theory of how humans
evolved from animals. Furthermore, future research may test if other aspects of Darwin’s theory
of evolution, such as they idea of natural selection, which been historically distorted into the
concept of “survival of the fittest” (e.g., Kendi, 2017) and has even sometimes been used to
incite racial prejudice (e.g., Rose, 2009), might have different (possibly opposite) effects on
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 73
prejudice. This should of course be done prior to recommending learning about Darwin’s theory
as a tool for reducing racism and prejudice.
Limitations
Before drawing any conclusions, we should note several additional limitations of the
current research. First, aside from Study 8, the data examined in all studies were correlational,
and for most of the constructs examined, measurement utilized only one item which, depending
on the year and the number of individuals that responded to it, had differing degrees of freedom
and power (this was particularly true with the GSS data).
Our ability to conclusively support the mediating role of PSSA in these studies was also
limited. Moreover, despite the fact that we did find some support for the mediating role of PSSA
in explaining the relationship between belief in human evolution and prejudice in Studies 7 and
8, these indirect effects were relatively small, and therefore suggest that PSSA, at least in the
way that it was currently measured, might not be the only mediator. Nevertheless, we believe
that the issue might lie in the measurement of the relatively novel psychological construct of
PSSA. Indeed, this measure has been used both as an individual difference variable (e.g., Amiot,
et al., 2020; Lifshin et al., 2017, 2021) and as a state-level variable (e.g., masked for review), and
so one might have to measure it before and after any given manipulation to effectively test its
mediational role. Furthermore, perhaps additional measures of PSSA and related phenomena are
needed to better account for its role in the effect.
In addition, some key mechanisms that might explain our findings, such as moral
expansiveness, identification with all of humanity, and attribution of moral concern, were not
accounted for. Future research should examine the underlying mechanism between perceived
similarity to animals and attributions of moral concern to different entities, to better understand
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 74
how promoting such beliefs, could prove beneficial for increasing concern for outgroups and the
environment. Notably, however, as our analyses from Study 1 indicate (see Supplementary
Materials) belief in human evolution seems to be a more robust and consistent predictor of
prejudice in comparison to other alternative hypotheses. In particular, to test this claim we
regressed the 22 variables that were capturing prejudice on the item capturing belief in human
evolution, the different variables of attitudes towards animals (support for animal rights, support
for testing on animals), as well as the item capturing scientific knowledge, while controlling for
conservative political beliefs and religiosity. Overall, belief in human evolution was significantly
associated with 21 out of the 22 variables in the expected direction. Support for animal testing
was only related to five, support for animal rights only with three, and general scientific
knowledge with one.
Conclusion
Despite these limitations, it is important to state that this research has several strengths.
First, we used large representative samples from a highly diverse set of cultures, and even across
time (within different years of the GSS), to test our hypothesis. This allows us to be more
confident in the reliability and robustness of the effects found. Second, although our control over
the specific measures that were used was limited, and despite the fact that Studies 2 and 3
included relatively few variables, many of the measures of racism and prejudice included in
these analyses, particularly in the GSS (Study 1), have been utilized in several other
examinations, and that these measures are in general face-valid (e.g., Rosenstein, 2008; Stults &
Baumer, 2007). Furthermore, in both the GSS and the Pew data, we were able to statistically
control for key demographic predictors of prejudice such as religion and conservative political
beliefs, thus allowing us to examine the hypothesis that perceived similarity to animals is
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 75
associated with increased positive attitudes towards outgroups in a more methodologically
rigorous way. This set of studies has uncovered an important relationship and we are hopeful that
future research, using longitudinal and experimental designs as well as surveys, will further
enhance our understanding of the role of various beliefs regarding evolution in how people view
and treat individuals and groups with social identities different from their own, an understanding
that may suggest new ways to lead us toward more just and egalitarian societies.
BIGOTRY AND THE HUMAN-ANIMAL DIVIDE 76
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