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Equality for (Almost) All: Social Egalitarians Reject Sexism and Racism, but Not Ageism
Keywords: Ageism, Sexism, Racism, Prejudice Egalitarianism
Abstract: Past research has assumed that social egalitarians reject group-based hierarchies and advocate for equal treatment of all groups. However, contrary to popular belief, we argue that social egalitarians are more likely to support ageism. Although facing their own forms of discrimination, older individuals are perceived as “blocking” younger people, and other unrepresented groups, from opportunities—which in turn, motivates egalitarians to actively discriminate against older adults. In four studies, we demonstrate that egalitarians endorse less prejudice towards—and show more support for—women and Blacks, but harbor more prejudice towards (Study 1a-b) and show less support for (Study 2-3) older individuals. Further, we isolate opportunity-blocking as a critical mediator, demonstrating that egalitarians believe that older individuals block more deserving groups from receiving necessary resources and support to get ahead (Study 3). Together, this research suggests that when it comes to egalitarianism, “equality for all” may only mean equality for some.