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Implicit prejudice and ethnic minorities: Arab-Muslims in Sweden

  • Jens Agerström
  • Dan-Olof Rooth

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to examine whether Swedish employers implicitly/automatically hold negative attitudes toward Arab-Muslims, an ethnic minority group subjected to substantial labor market discrimination in Sweden and, more specifically, associate members of this minority group with lower work productivity, as compared with native Swedes. Design/methodology/approach – Adapted versions of the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald et al., 1998) designed to measure implicit attitudes and productivity stereotypes toward Arab-Muslims were used. Corresponding explicit measures were administered. Findings – The results clearly show that employers have stronger negative implicit attitudes toward Arab-Muslims relative to native Swedes as well as implicitly perceiving Arab-Muslims to be less productive than native Swedes. Notably, the explicit measures reveal much weaker negative associations. Practical implications – Since Arab-Muslims are automatically perceived as being less productive, the present findings suggest that negative implicit productivity stereotypes could have significant effects on labor market outcomes, such as when employers make hiring decisions. Given that many hiring decisions are presumably based on “gut-feelings”, implicit attitudes and stereotypes, more so than their explicit counterparts, may exert a substantial impact on how employers contemplate and make decisions regarding human resources. Originality/value – Whereas traditional research has focused on self-conscious, explicit work-related attitudes toward various ethnic minority groups, the study offers a novel approach to understanding work-related prejudice.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Manpower.

Volume (Year): 30 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1/2 (May)
Pages: 43-55

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Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:30:y:2009:i:1/2:p:43-55
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Are emily and greg more employable than lakisha and jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination," Natural Field Experiments 00216, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Carlsson, Magnus & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2007. "Evidence of ethnic discrimination in the Swedish labor market using experimental data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 716-729, August.
  3. Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2007. "Implicit Discrimination in Hiring: Real World Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2764, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Jens, Agerström & Carlsson, Rickard & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2007. "Ethnicity and obesity: evidence of implicit work performance stereotypes in Sweden," Working Paper Series 2007:20, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  5. Joseph G. Altonji & Rebecca M. Blank, . "Race and Gender in the Labor Market," IPR working papers 98-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
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