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Scientific
background

Prejudice
is an emotional response, associated with feelings of hate and fear (Cotterell
& Neuberg, 2005) towards individuals who are unfamiliar. Discrimination is the
different, largely unfair treatment of an individual because of their outgroup
status (Stratton & Hayes, 1999 (as cited in Boag and Carnelley
2012). The reduction of negative attitudes and behaviours in society is important;
attachment types have been linked with prejudice and discriminatory behaviour.

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Attachment
theory suggests that sensitive parenting encourages a child to develop a secure
attachment type with a positive internal working model (Chen,
Dweck & Johnson 2007). This internal working model is a mental representation
of the world that aids understanding of the self and others. This model has
been found to influence attitudes and behaviours towards outgroups; insecure
attachment types have been correlated with negative attitudes towards
immigrants (Hofstra et al., 2005; van Oudenhoven & Hofstra, 2006). Although
these attachment patterns are stable (Hamilton, 2000) they can be temporarily
induced via attachment priming (Baldwin, Keelan, Fehr, Enns, &
Koh-Rangarajoo, 1996; Rowe & Carnelley, 2003). Many correlational studies
support that primed attachment security reduces negative evaluations and
aggressive behaviour towards outgroup individuals (Mikulincer & Shaver,
2001). However, there is a lack of causal evidence.

 Boag and Carnelley (2012) were the first in
the field to provide evidence of a causal effect between increased primed
attachment security and the reduction of prejudice and discriminatory behaviour
towards Muslims. On reviewing this research there is a methodological weakness
that reduces the internal validity of this causal link. Boag
and Carnelley (2012) assumed priming attachment security increased secure based
thinking in the priming group in comparison to the control. However, an
increase in secure based thinking was not measured. Therefore, it may not be
the increase in secure based thinking that caused a reduction in prejudice and
discrimination towards Muslims. To ensure internal validity of this effect, the
present study will add a measure of secure based thinking to both before and
after the attachment priming task and the control task.

To
measure secured based thinking an implicit association test (IAT) (Egloff
& Schmukle, 2002) will be applied. An IAT measures the strengths of
associations between two concepts through observation of response latencies in
categorization tasks. This measure has been found to have good reliability and
predictive validity in several experimental settings (Egloff & Schmukle,
2002). As research highlights that individuals may not be aware of their
attachment security or be embarrassed to report it truthfully (Leak &
Parsons, 2000) the IAT is a valid measure as it is implicit and is not
susceptible to social desirability (Greenwald, Poehlman, Uhlmann, & Banaji,
2009). This will uphold a positive aspect of Boag and Carnelley’s study (2012) where
they ensured social desirability did not confound results. The following study
will add an IAT of secure based thinking. If an increase in secure based
thinking is recorded, a reduction in prejudice and discrimination can be
attributed to this effect and therefore provide internal validity to a causal
link.

 

Aims
and Hypotheses

The
aim of this research is to address a previous methodological issue from Boag
and Carnelley’s (2012) findings. Attachment priming was found to reduce
self-report and discriminatory behaviour, however an effect of attachment
priming was not measured. Therefore, it is unclear as to whether attachment
priming increased secure based thinking.

With
the application of an additional measure, an IAT, this study aims to improve
the internal validity of Boag & Carnelley’s research. An IAT will measure
secure based thinking before and after the attachment priming task. Any
increase in secure based thinking will be attributed to attachment priming. Therefore
any reduction in self report and behavioural discrimination can be considered
an effect of attachment priming. This will provide internal validity to
previous research of a causal link between primed attachment security
influencing subsequent self-report discrimination choice and behavioural discrimination
towards Muslims. This could lead to the development of attachment priming
intervention to reduce discrimination and prejudice against Muslims within
today’s society.

Previous
research demonstrates priming attachment increases secure based thinking. Therefore,
a hypothesis tested in this study will be: Individuals taking part in the
attachment priming task will have lower IAT scores in comparison to the neutral
group.

A further two hypotheses
will be tested:

Individuals
that have been primed with attachment security will have a lower self-report
discrimination choices against Muslims in comparison to the control.

Individuals
that have been primed with attachment security will display lower
discriminatory behaviour against Muslims in comparison to the control.

Methods

Participants

Students
will be recruited for course credits from a British University.

Measures

IAT

Secure
based thinking will be measured using a computerized IAT. Stimuli from secure
characteristics (e.g. trusting) and insecure characteristics (e.g. selfishness)
will be presented as well as the self (e.g., me) and other (e.g., they)
categories. Easier pairings (faster responses) will be concluded to be more
strongly associated in a person’s memory than more difficult pairings (Egloff
& Schmukle, 2002).

Priming

Attachment
security will be primed with a visualization and writing task (Rowe &
Carnelley, 2003). Participants will be instructed to think and write for 10
minutes about a close relationship displaying attachment security. Participants
in the neutral priming condition will write about a shopping trip.

Self-reported
discrimination housemate choice

Participants
will choose a new housemate. They will be given 4 pairs to choose between,
where one of each pair will be from a traditional outgroup: ‘slim’ or ‘obese’,
‘gay/lesbian/bisexual’ or ‘heterosexual’, ‘disabled’ or ‘able bodied’, and
‘Muslim’ or ‘non-Muslim’. Non-discriminatory choices will be coded as ‘0’ and
discriminatory choices will be coded as ‘1’.

Preference for
discrimination choice.

Each
housemate choice will have a measure of preference for the individual they have
chosen. High scores on a scale (0 – 100) will indicate higher preference for a discriminatory
choice.

Social desirability

A
version of the Marlow-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (Ray, 1984) will be used
where high scores equal high levels of socially desirable responding.

Behavioural Discrimination

The
distance between the belongings and the chair selected by a participant will be
recorded (Macrae, Bodenhausen, Milne, and Jetten’s, 1994 (as cited in Boag and
Carnelley, 2012). Larger distances, judged in number of chairs will signify higher
behavioural discrimination.

Procedure

Participants
will be told the study is measuring how familiarity with work colleagues effects
abilities in creative tasks. Participants will complete the IAT, followed by an
attachment priming task or a neutral prime. Participants will
complete the IAT again. Before participants enter a second laboratory they will
be asked to familiarise themselves with an image of a Muslim (shoulders up, of a
bearded man of mid-toned skin, with a white shirt/ prayer cap) for 2 minutes.
As participants enter the room they will be told the second participant has ‘nipped
out’. On the first chair, there will be the belongings of the co-participant
(black jacket, scarf, and an open bag containing books in Arabic) as if he is
sitting there. The researcher will then leave and ask the participant to sit and
complete a questionnaire (discrimination choice and social desirability
measures). Another researcher will record the distance the participant sits
relative to the first chair via a one-way mirror.

After
three minutes the researcher will end the experiment and probe the participant
for any suspicion of the male being a ‘co- participant’. Data from any
suspicious participant will be removed to prevent social desirability. Due to
the use of deception, participants will be given a full debrief on the true
experimental aims and encouraged to ask questions.

Results

The
level of secure based thinking will be analysed using a factorial analysis of
variance with one within participant’s factor of IAT timing (before vs. after)
and one between- participants factor of type of prime (attachment vs. neutral).
The results will demonstrate that the type of prime and the IAT timings
significantly affect levels of secure based thinking. Individuals primed will
have a significantly lower IAT score than those in the writing task, showing
greater secure based thinking in comparison to the neutral condition.

The
prime will not affect the choice of a Muslim as a housemate or the choice and preference
towards non target groups. However, a one-way analysis of variance will be
expected to find that individuals primed with attachment security will report a
significantly lower preference for their discriminatory choice against the
Muslim person.

Individuals
primed with attachment security will sit significantly closer to the Muslim
participant’s chair than those in the non-primed task. These finding will
suggest that primed attachment security leads to less preference for a
discriminatory choice and decreases behavioural discrimination towards Muslims.

A
between-groups analysis of covariance will show that the effect of primed
security on lower preference for a discriminatory housemate choice against
a Muslim is not due to socially desirable responding. This will be repeated
with behavioural discrimination and show no effect of social desirable
responding. Finally, a correlation will display an association between
discrimination measures; those who have higher discriminatory preferences will
demonstrate greater behavioural discrimination against a Muslim.

 

 

 

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