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Attitudes toward indigenous Australians: The issue of "special treatment"

Pedersen, A., Dudgeon, P., Watt, S. and Griffiths, B. (2011) Attitudes toward indigenous Australians: The issue of "special treatment". Australian Psychologist, 41 (2). pp. 85-94.

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Previous research has found that people who report negative attitudes toward Indigenous Australians also report acceptance of false beliefs such as “being Indigenous entitles you to more social security benefits”. In the present study, we were interested in examining negative attitudes toward Indigenous Australians across three Western Australian locations, and comments spontaneously generated by participants regarding what is known in the literature as “false beliefs”. to do this, we measured negative attitudes toward Indigenous Australians and content analysed responses to an open-ended question collected from 633 community members. Four categories relating to special treatment for Indigenous Australians were found in the form of Government handouts, education, the legal system, and housing. Participants who reported that they saw Indigenous Australians receiving special treatment were significantly more negative in their attitudes compared to participants who did not. Although some special treatment themes had some validity; others did not. We discuss the circumstances surrounding Indigenous disadvantage that may be viewed by some as preferential treatment. The present study adds to previous work by identifying what issues of “special treatment” are generated by participants without specific prompting. By identifying these themes, and bringing them into the public forum, this may have a significant effect on reducing negative attitudes toward Indigenous Australians.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Copyright: 2011 The Australian Psychological Society Ltd
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