New research shows people confident in their social position are more tolerant towards others in disagreements

  • Sunday, April 8, 2018

New research conducted by Dr Nikhila Mahadevan from the Department of Psychology shows that people who are confident in their social position are more likely to be accepting of viewpoints differing from their own.

The two year project involved six studies that sampled 1,800 people by collecting laboratory data and utilising surveys to measure and determine how people’s attitudes towards others were affected by how they perceived themselves socially. The study showed that people with a ‘higher social status’, which was defined as someone who felt secure in their social position and felt admired and respected by others, had a more positive response to people with differing viewpoints compared to those who did not feel respected. The study predicted that people who feel more confident in their position will be less intimidated in an argument and adopt a more open-minded attitude towards other’s opposing ideas.

Dr Mahadevan said ‘As societies become more multi-cultural, the more likely we are to meet others who have differing ideological backgrounds to our own. Usually, this type of research on power and status tends to have negative connotations about people in power, however, this has shown that people who do feel secure in their social position tend to be more positive towards others’ differing viewpoints, and to overall act more understanding and tolerant’

To read the full article published in Social Cognition, please click here.

100% of the Department of Psychology research is rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for its impact (REF 2014).