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Attitudes to discrimination and positive action

Authors: Rachel Ormston, John Curtice, Susan McConville and Susan Reid

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This report provides the kind of robust data about public attitudes required to answer difficult questions like these. It presents findings from the 2010 Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA), providing a detailed picture of public attitudes to discrimination and positive action in 2010. Moreover, as this is now the third time SSA has included questions on attitudes to discrimination (following previous studies in 2002 and 2006) this report also provides valuable insight into how public attitudes in this area are changing over time.


This report presents key findings from a study of public attitudes towards discrimination and positive action. Based on data from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA), 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
  • 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 survey included two sets of detailed questions – one about personal relationships and one about employment – in the expectation that attitudes towards a particular group are likely to vary depending on the context.