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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Racial Tolerance of Young People: Age and Gender Related Differences

Trang Thomas, Rivka Witenberg.

Racial tolerance has been under-researched and is largely unexplored from a psycho-developmental perspective. This paper will discuss definitions around tolerance and report on a study about racial tolerance using a developmental model involving two hundred and seventy five students aged 11-22 years. The students were asked to make judgments about stories about people from Asian, English and Aboriginal backgrounds. Racial tolerance was found not to be a global construct. That is, there were no differences between tolerance judgements in three different contexts. However, significant differences were found among judgements made about the kind of behaviours students were asked to tolerate. Implications for education for children in a multicultural society is then discussed.


Trang Thomas  (Australia)
Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology and Disability Studies
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Trang Thomas is a Professor of Psychology at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Currently, she is a member of the Council for Multicultural Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and Assistant Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission. She has conducted numerous research projects into racism, women’s health, migrant older persons and refugee children.

Rivka Witenberg  (Australia)

Department of Psychology
The University of Melbourne 

  • Racial tolerance
  • Adolesscents

(30 min Conference Paper, English)