The complexity of tolerance and intolerance judgments: A response to Gibson

Jeffery J. Mondak, Mitchell S. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a recent paper, we posited that tolerance and intolerance judgments are characterized by two forms of variance. First, the distinction between tolerance and intolerance is dichotomous in that individuals are or are not willing to extend the full rights of citizenship to all others without exception. Second, among those not so willing, variance exists in the breadth and depth of their intolerance. James Gibson challenges our view, arguing that we have advanced a fundamental shift in how tolerance is conceptualized, and that this shift is not warranted empirically because very few Americans are tolerant under our definition. In this response, we first outline the rationale for why our view does not constitute a significant shift in the conceptualization of tolerance, but rather is merely an effort to pull the empirical treatment of tolerance into alignment with the concept's common definition. Second, we explain that Gibson's finding that few Americans are tolerant gains noteworthy meaning and significance from the view of tolerance we present. Lastly, we demonstrate that new insight on the antecedents of tolerance and intolerance emerges when analyses attend to the two-part structure of tolerance judgments highlighted in our research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-337
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Attitudes
  • Intolerance
  • Measurement
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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