Is it possible to predict when prejudice will occur?

What if it were possible to use a scientific model to predict hate crimes, protests, or conflict? Researchers at McGill University and University of Toronto have begun the groundwork to develop a formal predictive model of prejudice, similar to meteorological weather predictions.

The model can be explained by the equation: Prejudice = Threat - Contact + Identification, "with some numbers involved," says lead author Eric Hehman, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and lead author of a new study published in Psychological Review. The model is currently around 50 to 60 per cent accurate.

"Now that this initial model exists, it can be improved upon by the field over time, until people’s prejudices can be predicted with high accuracy," said Hehman.

Eventually, he says, accurate models to predict the likelihood of mass human behaviours and conflict could be important to policymakers.

About the study

Prejudice Model 1.0: A Predictive Model of Prejudice by Eric Hehman and Becca Neel was published in Psychological Review.