Course Objectives: This introductory level journal article is offered to help the participant:
Authors: Drs. Ninawa Butrus and Rivka Witenberg are affiliated with Australian Catholic University and have published extensively in the area.
Course Description: 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 specialization Certificate in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy if desired. $19.
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.