Acceptability of Prejudice


The objective of this activity is to help people better understand their own prejudices and to consider why some prejudices are acceptable and others are not. The activity was adapted from Crandall, Eshleman, and O’Brien (2002).

Estimated Time

Session One: 10 minutes

Session Two: 20-25 minutes

Group Size

Any size works, but works better if students are divided into smaller groups of 5-7 people.


This activity works best if completed in two class sessions. In Session One (which could be presented online), students complete the Acceptability of Prejudice Measure (adapted from Crandall, Eshleman, & O’Brien, 2002). During Session Two, participants discuss their findings. If you cannot complete the exercise in two sessions, participants can compare their ratings (to each other or to those found by Crandall et al.) in small discussion groups.

To complete this measure, participants check the box that they believe best describes how acceptable it is to have negative feelings toward each of these social groups (e.g., rapists, drug users, and male nurses). Be sure to explain that there are no right or wrong answers and that participants should just state their honest opinion.

In preparation for Session Two, enter the data into an Excel file. Sort the responses on column 1, 2 or 3. (depending on whether you want to focus on which prejudices are most or which are least acceptable). Discussion focuses on the broad groups; the fine distinctions are less important.

On Day Two, bring a rank-ordered list prejudices (e.g., most acceptable to the least acceptable) and present it to the class. You might also provide the percentage of students that checked “acceptable to have negative feelings.” Ask students to discuss the provided questions (see below). Ask students to reflect on whether they results fit with the authors’ assertion that people “closely adhere to social norms when expressing prejudice, evaluating scenarios of discrimination, and reacting to hostile jokes” (Crandall, Eshleman, & O’Brien, 2002, p. 359). You can also present results from Crandall et al.; one summary is provided below. Respondents are sometimes surprised about which groups are rated negatively. Be sure to remind them that these are their ratings and are not based on “dated” findings or ratings of a more prejudiced group.


Questionnaire to be Completed

Rankings from Crandall et al.

Discussion Questions