Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 10, pp 1658–1671 | Cite as

Developmental Trajectories of Prejudice and Tolerance Toward Immigrants from Early to Late Adolescence

  • Maarten Herman Walter van Zalk
  • Margaret Kerr
Empirical Research


Adolescence is an important period for the development of relationships between immigrants and non-immigrants, yet little is known about how problematic personality traits affect adolescents’ relationships with and attitudes toward immigrants. This work identified the roles of intergroup relationships and one dimension of problematic personality traits, namely callous–unemotional traits, in the development of adolescents’ tolerance and prejudice. Three annual measurements of a large community sample (N = 1,542) of non-immigrant adolescents (M age = 15.31 at first measurement; 50.2 % girls) were used to show that tolerance and prejudice toward immigrants represent two dimensions with distinct developmental trajectories from early to late adolescence. Callous–unemotional traits predicted fewer decreases in prejudice toward immigrants, yet were not directly associated with tolerance. Intergroup friendships predicted stronger increases in tolerance, which, in turn, predicted decreases in prejudice toward immigrants. Thus, tolerance and prejudice toward immigrants seem to be differentially influenced by social experiences and problematic personality traits.


Prejudice Tolerance Intergroup friendships Callous–unemotional traits 



Support for this research was provided to Margaret Kerr and Håkan Stattin by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS), and Örebro University, and to Maarten van Zalk by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and by Utrecht University.

Author contributions

MvZ conceived of the study, participated in its design, performed the statistical analysis, and coordinated and drafted the manuscript; MR helped design the study and draft the early version of the manuscript. MR died prior to the completion of this article. We gratefully acknowledge her contributions to the research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maarten Herman Walter van Zalk
    • 1
  • Margaret Kerr
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Center Adolescent DevelopmentUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Centre for Adolescent ResearchÖrebro UniversityÖrebroSweden

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