Personality correlates of social attitudes and social distance
More details
Hide details
National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic
Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Faculty of Education, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
University of New York in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
Submission date: 2021-08-02
Final revision date: 2023-04-17
Acceptance date: 2023-05-09
Online publication date: 2023-09-15
Corresponding author
Juraj Jonáš   

National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2024;12(1):20-29
Previous studies have shown that personality traits (i.e., openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness) relate to prejudicial attitudes. However, one of the aspects of prejudice is social distance; its association with personality traits was overlooked by previous studies. Therefore, this study examines the connection between the Big Five personality traits and social distance toward certain social groups.

Participants and procedure:
Participants from the general population were recruited through leaflets, the institutional webpage, Facebook, and through the project recruitment website and assessed via paper-and-pencil or online form. A total of 214 participants were included (of whom 68.2% were women and the mean age was 32.65, SD = 11.27, range 18-72) who completed the Bogardus Social Distance Scale and the 44-item Big Five Inventory questionnaire.

The results showed a relationship between social distance, agreeableness, and openness to experience. Agreeableness seems to lower the social distance toward all studied groups. In comparison, openness to experience seems to lower the social distance towards groups that evoke more polarized attitudes in the majority (e.g., migrants). Furthermore, the influence of demographic characteristics (i.e., age, education level, and gender) is also significant.

This study shows that personality is significantly related to social distancing and expression of prejudicial attitudes. In particular, agreeableness and openness to experience have different effects on social distance and attitudes towards different groups. Further implications are discussed.

Adorno, T., Frenkel-Brenswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. Harper & Brother.
Akrami, N., Ekehammar, B., & Bergh, R. (2011). Generalized prejudice: Common and specific components. Psychological Science, 22, 57–59.
Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Addison-Wesley.
Altemeyer, B. (1981). Right-wing authoritarianism. University of Manitoba Press.
Ashford, R. D., Brown, A. M., & Curtis, B. (2018). Substance use, recovery, and linguistics: The impact of word choice on explicit and implicit bias. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 189, 131–138.
Axt, J. R. (2018). The best way to measure explicit racial attitudes is to ask about them. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9, 896–906.
Ayers, J. W., Hofstetter, C. R., Schnakenberg, K., & Kolody, B. (2009). Is immigration a racial issue? Anglo attitudes on immigration policies in a border county. Social Science Quarterly, 90, 593–610.
Beck, A. T., Epstein, N., Brown, G., & Steer, R. A. (1988). An inventory for measuring clinical anxiety: Psychometric properties. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 893.
Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). Manual for the Beck Depression Inventory-II. Psychological Corporation.
Bell, C. C., & Dunbar, E. (2012). Racism and pathological bias as a co-occurring problem in diagnosis and assessment. In T. A. Widiger (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of personality disorders (pp. 694–709). Oxford Academic.
Bogardus, E. S. (1925). Measuring social distance. Journal of Applied Sociology, 9, 299–308.
Bogardus, E. S. (1933). A social distance scale. Sociology & Social Research, 17, 265–271.
Bogardus, E. S. (1947). Measurement of personal-group relations. Sociometry, 10, 306–311.
Bogardus, E. S. (1958). Racial distance changes in the United States during the past 30 years. Sociology and Social Research, 43, 127–134.
Bogardus, E. S. (1968). Comparing racial distance in Ethiopia, South-Africa, and United-States. Sociology and Social Research, 52, 149–156.
Brubaker, R., Loveman, M., & Stamatov, P. (2004). Ethnicity as cognition. Theory and Society, 33, 31–64.
Canli, T., & Lesch, K. P. (2007). Long story short: The serotonin transporter in emotion regulation and social cognition. Nature Neuroscience, 10, 1103–1109.
Ceobanu, A. M., & Escandell, X. (2010). Comparative analyses of public attitudes toward immigrants and immigration using multinational survey data: a review of theories and research. Annual Review of Sociology, 36, 309–328.
Collins, K. A., & Clément, R. (2012). Language and prejudice: Direct and moderated effects. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 31, 376–396.
Eagly, A. H., & Chaiken, S. (1998). Attitude structure and function. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (pp. 269–322). McGraw-Hill.
Ekehammar, B., Akrami, N., & Araya, T. (2003). Gender differences in implicit prejudice. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 1509–1523.
Flynn, F. J. (2005). Having an open mind: The impact of openness to experience on interracial attitudes and impression formation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 816.
Ford, R. (2008). Is racial prejudice declining in Britain? Is racial prejudice declining in Britain? The British Journal of Sociology, 59, 609–636.
Gallego, A., & Pardos-Prado, S. (2014). The Big Five personality traits and attitudes towards immigrants. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 40, 79–99.
Heissler, R., Doubková, N., & Preiss, M. (2022). Hodnocení skrytého a zjevného rasismu za pomoci implicitních a explicitních metod [Assessing covert and overt racism using implicit and explicit methods]. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Hello, E., Scheepers, P., & Gijsberts, M. (2002). Education and ethnic prejudice in Europe: Explanations for cross-national variances in the educational effect on ethnic prejudice. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 46, 5–24.
Hoření, K. (2018). Co si myslíš o...: Předsudky v české společnosti a jak s nimi účinně pracovat ve škole [What do you think about...: Prejudices in Czech society and how to effectively work with them at school]. Ústav pro studium totalitních režimů: Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i.
Hřebíčková, M., Jelínek, M., Blatný, M., Brom, C., Burešová, I., Graf, S., Mejzlíková, T., Vazsonyi, A. T., & Zábrodská, K. (2016). Big Five Inventory: Základní psychometrické charakteristiky české verze BFI-44 a BFI-10 [Big Five Inventory: Basic psychometric properties of the Czech version of BFI-44 and BFI-10]. Československá Psychologie, 60, 567–583.
Iyengar, S., Sood, G., & Lelkes, Y. (2012). Affect, not ideology: a social identity perspective on polarization. Public Opinion Quarterly, 76, 405–431.
Jackson, J. W., & Poulsen, J. R. (2005). Contact experiences mediate the relationship between five‐factor model personality traits and ethnic prejudice. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 667–685.
John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big Five Trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 102–138). Guilford Press.
Jonason, P. K., Underhill, D., & Navarrate, C. D. (2020). Understanding prejudice in terms of approach tendencies: The Dark Triad traits, sex differences, and political personality traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 153, 109617.
Jonáš, J. (2013). Theoretical and methodological aspects in anthropological research of stereotypes. Prace Etnograficzne, 41, 297–307.
Jorm, A. F., & Oh, E. (2009). Desire for social distance from people with mental disorders. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43, 183–200.
Kamarádová, D., Praško, J., Látalová, K., Panáčková, L., Švancara, J., Ocisková, M., Grambal, A., Sigmundová, Z., Jelenová, D., Kovácsová, A., Cakirpaloglu, S., Kasalová, P., Bareš, V., & Vrbová, K. (2016). Validizace české verze Beckova inventáře úzkosti [Validation of Czech version of Beck Anxiety Inventory]. Česká a Slovenská Psychiatrie, 112, 153–158.
Karakayali, N. (2009). Social distance and affective orientations. Sociological Forum, 24, 538–562.
Kosic, A., & Phalet, K. (2006). Ethnic categorization of immigrants: The role of prejudice, perceived acculturation strategies and group size. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 30, 769–782.
Liu, M., Conrad, F. G., & Lee, S. (2017). Comparing acquiescent and extreme response styles in face-to-face and web surveys. Quality & Quantity, 51, 941–958.
Lyons, P. (2016). Are Czech prejudiced? Contemporary Czech Society. The Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague.
Park, R. E. (1924). The concept of social distance as applied to the study of racial attitudes and racial relations. Journal of Applied Sociology, 8, 339–344.
Parrillo, V. N., & Donoghue, C. (2005). Updating the Bogardus social distance studies: a new national survey. The Social Science Journal, 42, 257–271.
Parrillo, V. N., & Donoghue, C. (2013). The national social distance study: Ten years later. Sociological Forum, 28, 597–614.
Pavlović, M., & Purić, D. (2016). Basic personality traits as correlates of implicit prejudice. Primenjena Psihologija, 9, 125–140.
Pettigrew, T. F. (2009). Probing the complexity of intergroup prejudice. International Journal of Psychology, 44, 40–42.
Pettigrew, T. F., & Meertens, R. W. (1995). Subtle and blatant prejudice in Western Europe. European Journal of Social Psychology, 25, 57–75.
Phillips, L. (2015). Homelessness: Perception of causes and solutions. Journal of Poverty, 19, 1–19.
Plana, I., Lavoie, M. A., Battaglia, M., & Achim, A. M. (2014). A meta-analysis and scoping review of social cognition performance in social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 28, 169–177.
Ptáček, R., Raboch, J., Vňuková, M., Hlinka, J., & Anders, M. (2016). Becková škála deprese BDI-II – standardizace a využití v praxi [The Beck Depression Inventory BDI-II – standardization and its use in practice]. Česká a Slovenská Psychiatrie, 112, 270–274.
Radvansky, G. A., Copeland, D. E., & von Hippel, W. (2010). Stereotype activation, inhibition, and aging. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 51–60.
Roccas, S., Sagiv, L., Schwartz, S. H., & Knafo, A. (2002). The Big Five personality factors and personal values. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 789–801.
Ryšavý, D. (2003). Sociální distance vůči Romům. Případ vysokoškolských studentů [Social distance towards Roma. The case of university students]. Sociologický Časopis, 39, 55–78.
Sibley, C. G., & Duckitt, J. (2008). Personality and prejudice: a meta-analysis and theoretical review. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12, 248–279.
Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (2001). Social dominance: an intergroup theory of social hierarchy and oppression. Cambridge University Press.
Sparkman, D. J., Eidelman, S., & Blanchar, J. C. (2016). Multicultural experiences reduce prejudice through personality shifts in openness to experience. European Journal of Social Psychology, 46, 840–853.
Verberk, G., Scheepers, P., & Felling, A. (2002). Attitudes and behavioural intentions towards ethnic minorities: an empirical test of several theoretical explanations for the Dutch case. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 28, 197–219.
von Hippel, W. (2007). Aging, executive functioning, and social control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 240–244.
Wark, C., & Galliher, J. F. (2007). Emory Bogardus and the origins of the social distance scale. The American Sociologist, 38, 383–395.
Weinfurt, K. P., & Moghaddam, F. M. (2001). Culture and social distance: a case study of methodological cautions. The Journal of Social Psychology, 141, 101–110.
Williams, J. E. (2015). Social distance. In G. Ritzer (Ed.), The Blackwell encyclopedia of sociology. Wiley Online Library.
Copyright: © Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk This is an Open Access journal, all articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top