While I was completing my doctorate, and drinking too much beer with my friend Chris Sibley, I contributed to a couple of studies he was writing up (references at the bottom). Honestly, I hadn’t thought about these studies for a long time, but I’ve been thinking more about them in the last few days.
A short summary is below (if you email me I can send you a copy of the papers – I can’t post them online because they are owned by the journal).
The results of the first study will come as no big surprise. What it says, in a nutshell, is that Pakeha tend to embrace the symbolic aspects of bicultural policy (ie, it’s good to incorporate Maori culture and values into mainstream NZ culture), but oppose its resource specific aspects (for example, Maori claims to the seabed and foreshore, and affirmative action policies). The few Pakeha who do embrace the resource specific aspects of bicultural policy are those who experience a sense of responsibility (termed collective guilt) for historical injustices.
The second study illustrates two theorised psychological processes that operate to produce prejudice – in a wide range of contexts, in both New Zealand and elsewhere (as an aside, the international evidence for the existence of these processes is really quite compelling).
The two processes center on:
- a sense of danger, which promotes a desire for in-group cohesion, and negative attitudes towards groups perceived to threaten that cohesion, and
- a sense of competition, which promotes a desire for in-group superiority, and negative attitudes toward those who threaten that sense of superiority.
Using structural equation modelling (fancy stats), the study found that Pakeha attitudes toward the resource specific aspects of bicultural policy were based more in the psychological ‘competition/group superiority process’ than the ‘danger/cohesion process’ (this latter process is usually stronger among religious groups, very collective cultures, and ahem, in the United States).
The results of the statistical model also supported the theory that refuting collective guilt (ie, it happened so long ago, it’s not our fault anymore!) helps Pakeha to justify (feel better about) the expression of negative views on the resource specific aspects of bicultural policy.
Sibley, C. G., Robertson, A., Kirkwood, S. (2005). Pakeha Attitudes toward the Symbolic and Resource-Specific Aspects of Bicultural Policy in New Zealand: The Legitimizing Role of Collective Guilt for Historical Injustices. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 34, p. 171.
Sibley, C. G., Wilson, M. S, Robertson, A. (2007). Differentiating the Motivations and Justifications Underlying Individual Differences in Pakeha Opposition to Bicultural Policy: Replication and extension of a predictive model. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 36, p. 25.