Differential effects of societal anchoring and attitude certainty in determining support or opposition to (bi)cultural diversity in New Zealand

  • James H. Liu Victoria University of Wellington
  • Chris G. Sibley University of Auckland


In the context of bicultural race relations in New Zealand (NZ) between indigenous Maori  people and the dominant group NZ Europeans, standard societal discourses for talking  about (bi)cultural diversity render illegitimate actions to rectify the disadvantaged position  of Maori. However, Maori have considerable symbolic power in NZ to recognize or validate the ethnic identity of the dominant group because the foundation of the nation’s sovereignty  is based on the Treaty of Waitangi between Maori and NZ Europeans. Based on content rich  analysis of previous discursive work in this area, we hypothesized that “attitude strength”  (ratings of certainty of opinion about an issue), and what we refer to as “societal anchoring” (the degree to which an issue is talked about interpersonally and debated in media) would  exert differential effects on support for bicultural policy and related issues. Hierarchical  Linear Modeling showed that intrapersonal attitude certainty had positive associations  and societal anchoring had negative associations with support for bicultural policy in a  sample of NZ European undergraduates. The importance of the distinction between  attitude certainty and societal anchoring for social representations theory and the core and peripheral elements within a representation is discussed in relation to discourse analysis and attitude theory

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