Violating American values: A "value congruence" approach to understanding outgroup attitudes

Monica Biernat, Theresa K. Vescio, Shelley A. Theno

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127 Scopus citations


A number of theories of racism suggest that one component of Whites' negative regard for Blacks is the assumption that Blacks violate cherished values. In two studies, we examined the effects of both perceived and actual value violation on evaluative judgments of stereotyped group members and extended the race analysis by also focusing on sexual orientation (homosexual, heterosexual) as a social category with value implications. We found that (a) participants were more likely to perceive lack of support for values than violation of values in outgroups relative to ingroups; (b) value violation had a large impact on judgments of individual group members, although social category membership (race) continued to exert some influence as well; (c) individual and situational differences in Protestant Ethic and egalitarian value salience increased the use of race as a judgment cue; and (d) these values were not implicated in judgments of heterosexual versus homosexual targets, presumably because the Protestant Ethic component of "individualism and hard work" is not relevant to stereotypes based on sexual orientation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-410
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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