Good will to all men?by Peter Kellner / December 10, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
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Whether our views flow from prejudice, or from bitter personal experience, many of us judge people by their demographic group. When we encounter a stranger, our initial opinion of them will often depend on their age, gender and ethnic group. This is clear from YouGov’s latest surveys for Prospect. It is also clear that these judgements are seldom racist in the traditional sense. The people we regard as the laziest, rudest, most promiscuous, drunken drug-takers are white men in their twenties.
YouGov explored attitudes to 48 different groups, examining different combinations of ethnic, religious and national groups, age brackets and genders. We asked respondents how likely it was that a group possessed each of five positive qualities, such as intelligence and honesty, and five negative qualities, such as a tendency towards violence, drunkenness, or drug-taking.
With such exercises, there is a danger that if people are asked to compare groups, some will veer towards giving the politically correct answer and score different groups the same. To avoid this, we conducted 48 separate surveys—one for each group. The graphic, overleaf, shows the main findings. The figures show the net scores: the percentage giving positive responses minus the percentage giving negative responses. The numbers show that most of us regard most groups on most attributes positively rather than negatively. But the extent to which that is so varies substantially.
Those variations are not just big but complex. Gender matters more than age or ethnicity. Look a…