This journal article is offered as an introductory level course. As a result of this learning activity, the participant will be able to:
The importance of diversity tolerance and respect for other cultures, religions, and ethnicities is receiving attention with an increased sense of urgency. Terrorist threats, genocidal wars, and hate crimes are part of the daily news, while, globally, distances are ever-shrinking and people with diverse backgrounds must cooperate for survival. Exposing people to diverse others has been found to be helpful in many cases, but at times has led to an increase in prejudice instead. This article presents an empirical study to test the roles of several intrapersonal factors–openness, agreeableness, and dispositional empathy–as potential predictors of diversity tolerance in university students.
The study creatively addressed the complex constructs. First, what is meant by diversity tolerance is complex. Diversity tolerance is not merely the opposite of prejudice. Diversity tolerance may involve acceptance of others’ diverse beliefs, speech, and/or actions, each of which may be determined by different factors. A person high in empathy may be tolerant of others’ intolerant beliefs, for example, as long as the beliefs are not acted upon in a negative way. Conversely, a person high in the personality factor of openness may be especially sensitive to others’ belief systems. Empathy is also a complex construct, with both cognitive and affective components. It may be surmised that cognitive empathy (i.e., perspective-taking) may promote tolerance, but how important is it relative to such affective components as empathic concern?
In the study described in this article, over 100 university students responded to vignettes that described accepting and intolerant beliefs, speech, and actions. They also completed personality assessments of their openness and agreeableness and a measure of dispositional empathy. Openness, agreeableness, and various aspects of empathy (perspective-taking, empathic concern, and personal distress) were found differentially to predict various aspects of diversity tolerance.
The findings could have important implications. More research is needed to continue to identify factors that may be important to address in designing successful interventions. This study represents a valuable step in this direction.
The article was authored by psychologists Ninawa Butrus, PhD and Rivka Witenberg, PhD, who are both affiliated with Australian Catholic University and have published extensively in the area. Marylie W. Gerson, PhD selected the article and prepared the course description and learning assessment for it.
Dr. Gerson received her PhD from Princeton University and has taught continuously at undergraduate, graduate, and/or post-doctoral levels for several decades. She is a long-standing member of the American Psychological Association, is a psychology professor at California Lutheran University, and maintains an active clinical practice as a licensed psychologist. Tolerance and openness to diversity have been particular research interests of hers for many years, and have been the topic of a number of her publications (e.g., Gerson & Neilson, 2014) and national conference presentations. She has twice been nominated as Diversity Professor of the Year and serves as a mentor for underrepresented first year students at California Lutheran University, an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). Her empirically-based program to build resilience in young adults (Gerson & Fernandez, 2013) is currently in use with underrepresented and minority students at an HSI in Texas, and she is preparing an empirical study on the roles of culture and ethnicity as they may impact the predictors of resilience and life satisfaction in adults.
There is no commercial support or other potential conflicts of interest for this program, presentation, or instructor.
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The cost of the course is noted below. There no additional fees other than the possible cost of the journal article if you or your institution do not subscribe to the journal (please let us know if you have difficulty accessing the article). Your satisfaction is important to us. If you are not satisfied with a course, please let us know immediately—we will cancel your order and gladly offer you a full refund.
The course consists of the journal article below, available from the publisher.
Butrus, N., & Witenberg, R. T. (2013). Some personality predictors of tolerance to human diversity: The roles of openness, agreeableness, and empathy. Australian Psychologist, 48, 290-298. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-9544.2012.00081.x. Note: the publisher may charge a fee for this article if you or your institution do not hold a subscription.
An online multiple choice test and Certificate of Completion are provided for 2 CE credits. Introductory level. This course may be applied to our Certificate of Advanced Study in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy if desired. $19.