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Publication - Research Publication

Scottish Social Attitudes 2015: attitudes to discrimination and positive action

Published: 30 Sep 2016
Part of:
Research
ISBN:
9781786524744

This report explores attitudes to discrimination and positive action in Scotland in relation to: age, disability, gender, race, religion, gender reassignment and sexual orientation.

103 page PDF

1.1MB

103 page PDF

1.1MB

Contents
Scottish Social Attitudes 2015: attitudes to discrimination and positive action
2. General attitudes to prejudice

103 page PDF

1.1MB

2. General attitudes to prejudice

This chapter explores views on questions that tap into more general attitudes to prejudice. It covers a question that shows how inclined people are towards a more discriminatory point of view, feelings about diversity, views on perceived labour market competition, views on same sex relationships, and the level of contact people have with people from a range of equality groups. How views have changed over time is also examined.

Acceptability of prejudice

In SSA 2015, people were asked to choose which of two statements came closest to their own view:

'Scotland should do everything it can to get rid of all kinds of prejudice'

'Sometimes there is good reason for people to be prejudiced against certain groups'.

Choosing the second statement is an indication that, in at least some circumstances, the respondent is prepared to accept that discrimination may be acceptable. In 2015, nearly 7 in 10 (69%) were of the view that 'Scotland should do everything it can to get rid of all kinds of prejudice'. A substantial minority - one in five (22%) - were, however, of the opinion that 'sometimes there is good reason for people to be prejudiced against certain groups'.

Views on the acceptability of prejudice remained fairly consistent between 2002 and 2010 (see Table 2.1). However, between 2010 and 2015 there has been a small, but significant, decline in the proportion of people who thought that sometimes there is a good reason for people to be prejudiced, from 28% in 2010 to 22% in 2015.

Table 2.1: Is prejudice ever acceptable? (2002-2015)

2002 2006 2010 2015
Scotland should do everything it can to get rid of all kinds of prejudice 68% 65% 66% 69%
Sometimes there is good reason for people to be prejudiced against certain groups 26% 29% 28% 22%
(Depends) 4% 5% 4% 7%
(Don't know) 1% 1% 2% 2%
(Refused) - * * *
Bases 1665 1594 1495 1288

Base: All respondents
* less than 1%

Attitudes to diversity

Previous analysis of SSA data has shown that acceptability of prejudice is related to a person's attitudes towards, and level of comfort with, diversity - so called 'psychological factors'. People may be accepting of prejudice because they are uncomfortable with difference, or feel that diversity is threatening in some way. SSA has shown that those who express more positive views about diversity are less likely than others to find prejudice acceptable in any form (see Ormston et al, 2011). A number of questions aiming to tap into people's feelings about diversity have been included in SSA as part of the discrimination module since 2002 and were once again included in SSA 2015.

Respondents were asked about the sort of area they would prefer to live in. In 2015, around half (47%) said they would prefer to live in an area 'with lots of different kinds of people' (see Table 2.2). Attitudes had remained unchanged between 2002 and 2010, but there was a notable 10 percentage point decline in the proportion of people saying that they would rather live in an area 'where most people are similar to you' from 43% in 2010 to 33% in 2015, the lowest ever recorded level. Previously, the proportion who held that view was larger than the proportion who said that they preferred to live with 'lots of different kinds of people', in 2015 the reverse is now the case. Nearly half (47%) said that they would prefer to live with different kinds of people, an increase of ten percentage points since 2010.

Table 2.2 Preference of type of area to live in (2002-2015, column %)

2002 2006 2010 2015
With lots of different kinds of people 37% 34% 37% 47%
Where most people are similar to you 46% 49% 43% 33%
Can't choose 17% 16% 17% 20%
(Refused) * 1% 3% *
Weighted bases 1518 1423 1350 1232
Unweighted bases 1507 1434 1366 1234

Base: All respondents who completed self-complete
* less than 1%

Questions on the impact of immigration from particular groups on Scotland's identity and culture were also included to further explore attitudes towards diversity. Respondents were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with the following four statements:

  • People from outside Britain who come to live in Scotland make the country a better place
  • Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims came to live in Scotland
  • Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more people from Eastern Europe (for example, Poland and Latvia) came to live in Scotland
  • Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more black and Asian people came to live in Scotland

Agreeing with the first statement, that 'people from outside Britain who come to live in Scotland make it a better place' is indicative of a positive attitude towards increased diversity in Scotland, while agreeing with the latter three statements suggests an anxiety about the potential cultural impact of immigration from the respective groups.

Table 2.3 shows that in 2015, 4 in 10 (40%) agreed that 'people from outside Britain who come to live in Scotland make the country a better place'. This represents a significant increase from 2010 when around 3 in 10 (33%) held the same view, suggesting that the trend is towards people in Scotland holding more positive attitudes to diversity (see Chapter 5, Table 5.1 for full details).

Table 2.3 Whether people agree or disagree that if more people from particular groups moved here, Scotland would begin to lose its identity (2015)

Agree strongly/agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree strongly/disagree
People from outside Britain who come to live in Scotland make the country a better place. 40% 38% 20%
Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims came to live in Scotland. 41% 19% 39%
Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more people from Eastern Europe (for example, Poland and Latvia) came to live in Scotland. 38% 19% 41%
Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more black and Asian people came to live in Scotland. 35% 22% 42%

Base: All respondents
'Don't know' and 'Not answered' not shown but are included in the base
See Tables A2.1-A2.4 in Annex A for details.

A similar proportion, around 2 in 5 (41%), also disagreed in 2015 that Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims, people from Eastern Europe and black or Asian people came to live in Scotland. And across all of these groups there has been a decrease between 2010 and 2015 in the proportion who believed that more people from that group coming to live in Scotland would mean Scotland would begin to lose its identity. For example, there was an 8 percentage point decline between 2010 and 2015 in the proportion agreeing that Scotland would begin to lose its identify if more people from Eastern Europe came to live in Scotland (46% in 2010 compared with 38% in 2015) (for further discussion on these trends see Chapter 5). So whilst there appears to have been a shift towards greater acceptance of diversity, a fairly substantial minority still have concerns about the impact of immigration on Scotland's identity.

Perceived labour market competition

Since 2002 SSA has included questions designed to explore people's views on the impact of immigration on the Scottish labour market and people's feelings about competition for jobs. In 2015 two questions were asked, one about people from ethnic minorities and one about people from Eastern Europe. Respondents were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:

'People from ethnic minorities take jobs away from other people in Scotland'

'People who come here from Eastern Europe take jobs away from other people in Scotland'

Figure 2.2 Agreeing that people from Eastern Europe/ethnic minorities take jobs away from other people in Scotland (2006-2015, %)

Figure 2.2 Agreeing that people from Eastern Europe/ethnic minorities take jobs away from other people in Scotland (2006-2015, %)

Base: All respondents who completed a self-complete
SSA 2002: Weighted=1507, Unweighted=1518; SSA 2006: Weighted=1423, Unweighted=1437
SSA 2010: Weighted=1350, Unweighted=1366; SSA 2015: Weighted=1232, Unweighted=1234

Responses to both questions lend support to the notion that a sizeable proportion of people in Scotland continue to be concerned about the impact of immigration on the labour market. For example, in 2015, 30% 'agreed' or 'agreed strongly' that 'people who come to Scotland from Eastern Europe take jobs away from other people in Scotland'. The equivalent figure for the question on ethnic minorities was slightly lower at 26%.

The proportion of people expressing concerns about the impact of immigration on the Scottish labour market had increased between 2002 and 2010 for both people from ethnic minorities and people from Eastern Europe. This has been followed by a significant decline between 2010 and 2015. For example, in 2010, 37% agreed that people from ethnic minorities take jobs away from people in Scotland which declined to 30% in 2015, returning to the levels recorded in 2006. One possible explanation is that this decrease was primarily a result of unusually high levels in 2010 (possibly, at least in part, due to the poor economic situation at the height of the recession). (See Tables A2.5-A2.6 in Annex A for details).

Contact with different groups of people

Previous evidence from SSA shows that people who know someone from an equalities group are less likely to hold discriminatory attitudes towards people in that group. SSA 2015 asked respondents if, and how, they personally knew anyone from four different equalities groups: someone who is gay or lesbian, someone who is Muslim, someone with a mental health problem or someone from a different racial or ethnic background.

Table 2.5 shows that around 8 in 10 (79%) people in 2015 knew someone from a different ethnic background, someone with a mental health problem (76%) and someone who is gay or lesbian (83%). A much smaller proportion, 54%, knew someone who is Muslim. However, there had been a significant decrease between 2010 and 2015 in the proportion who said that they did not know anyone who was a Muslim (46% in 2010 compared with 41% in 2015). [8] There was also a significant decrease in the proportion of people reporting that they did not know anyone with a mental health problem or someone who is gay or lesbian. In 2010, a quarter said they did not know someone with a mental health problem, and this decreased to 19% in 2015.

Table 2.5 Contact with different groups of people

Anyone who is from a different racial or ethnic background Anyone who is gay or lesbian a Anyone who is Muslim b Anyone who has a mental health problem c
  2010 2015 2010 2015 2010 2015 2010 2015
No, does not know anyone with this characteristic 19% 19% 19% 15% 46% 41% 25% 19%
Yes - a family member 8% 12% 13% 21% 3% 3% 29% 32%
Yes - a friend 36% 39% 34% 41% 15% 18% 24% 31%
Yes - someone they don't know very well 19% 25% 20% 20% 15% 19% 11% 16%
Yes - someone at work 18% 27% 15% 17% 11% 16% 8% 9%
Yes - someone else 15% 13% 13% 12% 9% 12% 9% 7%
Not sure 4% 2% 6% 2% 9% 5% 9% 5%
Weighted bases 1366 1232 1366 1210 1366 1219 1366 1232
Unweighted bases 1366 1234 1366 1216 1366 1227 1366 1234

NB as respondents could choose more than one response, columns sum to more than 100%. Base: All respondents who completed a self-complete
a - The base for this column excludes people who themselves identified as gay or lesbian.
B - The base for this column excludes anyone who identified themselves as Muslim.
C - In SSA 2015, the following response category was added. 'Yes, I have a mental health problem myself'. This option was selected by 8%.

Attitudes to same sex relationships

In addition to asking people if they knew someone who is gay or lesbian, SSA has also included a question on people's views on whether sexual relations between two adults of the same sex are wrong. In 2015, just under a fifth (18%) believed that such a relationship was 'always' or 'mostly wrong' with around three-fifths (59%) saying that same sex relationships were 'not wrong at all'. Since 2000 there has been a decline in the proportion saying that 'sexual relations between two adults of the same sex' are wrong and an increase in the proportion saying they are 'not wrong at all' and findings in 2015 continued this pattern. For example, the proportion who held the view that same sex relationships are 'not wrong at all' increased from 50% to 59% between 2010 and 2015 (see Table A2.7 in Annex A for details).


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