Self-Esteem and Prejudice

Throughout the semester, we have discussed the role of self-esteem in creating prejudiced attitudes and thinking.  On one hand, many personality theorists (e.g., Adorno et al., 1950) argue that hatred and hostility toward outgroups are a result of low self-esteem.  That is, people with a negative self-image have a need to disparage outgroups as a way to increase their own sense of self-worth.  On the other hand, a number of cognitive theorists (e.g., Tajfel & Turner, 1986) contend that prejudice is tied to high self-esteem.  Specifically, a favorable self-image may lead people to assume that the groups of which they are members are superior to other groups in society.  Thus, the question:  Is it low or high self-esteem that is most responsible for prejudice?  Or, is self-esteem even related to prejudice at all?  What do you think?


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