Scottish Social Attitudes survey 2010: Attitudes to discrimination and positive action


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On 11th August, the Scottish Government published research findings of the 2010 survey on social attitudes in Scotland.


The paper summarises key findings from a module of questions on attitudes to discrimination and positive action included in the Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey 2010.

The study aimed to:

  • Measure the extent and character of discriminatory attitudes in Scotland in 2010
  • Assess the extent of support for positive action to try and achieve equality for different groups, and
  • Examine how attitudes have changed over time.

It focused on discriminatory attitudes, rather than behaviours, and examined attitudes towards different groups of people currently protected by equalities legislation in the UK, including: men and women; older people; people of different religions; gay men and lesbians; disabled people; ethnic minority groups; and transgender people.

The SSA survey involves around 1,500 interviews annually, with respondents selected using random probability sampling to ensure that the results are robust and representative of the Scottish population.

According to the main findings,

  • In 2010, only a minority of people in Scotland (28%) felt there was sometimes good reason to be prejudiced, while two-thirds felt Scotland should do everything it can to get rid of all kinds of prejudice.
  • Some sections of society – particularly those with lower levels of educational attainment and older people – were more likely than others to feel prejudice was sometimes acceptable, and to express discriminatory views about particular groups.
  • In contrast, people who knew someone from a particular group were less likely to express discriminatory views about someone from that group.
  • Discriminatory attitudes were particularly common in relation to Gypsy/Travellers and transgender people. For example, 55% of people said they would be unhappy with someone who cross-dresses in public forming a relationship with a close family member, while 37% said the same of a Gypsy/Traveller.
  • Less than a quarter of people felt that a bank should be allowed to ask employees to remove crucifixes (15%), headscarves (23%) or turbans (24%). However, 69% thought they should be allowed to ask a Muslim employee to remove a veil that covered their face.
  • There has been a small increase in the proportion who felt that people from ethnic minority groups (from 27% in 2006 – 31% in 2010) and people from Eastern Europe (32% in 2006 – 37% in 2010) take jobs away from other people in Scotland , even more so with regard to Eastern Europeans.

The summary of the research can be found here (Scottish Government Website) or downloaded as a pdf file.