Kevin Lewis

January 07, 2016

Ecology-driven stereotypes override race stereotypes

Keelah Williams, Oliver Sng & Steven Neuberg

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Why do race stereotypes take the forms they do? Life history theory posits that features of the ecology shape individuals' behavior. Harsh and unpredictable ("desperate") ecologies induce fast strategy behaviors such as impulsivity, whereas resource-sufficient and predictable ("hopeful") ecologies induce slow strategy behaviors such as future focus. We suggest that individuals possess a lay understanding of ecology's influence on behavior, resulting in ecology-driven stereotypes. Importantly, because race is confounded with ecology in the United States, we propose that Americans' stereotypes about racial groups actually reflect stereotypes about these groups' presumed home ecologies. Study 1 demonstrates that individuals hold ecology stereotypes, stereotyping people from desperate ecologies as possessing faster life history strategies than people from hopeful ecologies. Studies 2-4 rule out alternative explanations for those findings. Study 5, which independently manipulates race and ecology information, demonstrates that when provided with information about a person's race (but not ecology), individuals' inferences about blacks track stereotypes of people from desperate ecologies, and individuals' inferences about whites track stereotypes of people from hopeful ecologies. However, when provided with information about both the race and ecology of others, individuals' inferences reflect the targets' ecology rather than their race: black and white targets from desperate ecologies are stereotyped as equally fast life history strategists, whereas black and white targets from hopeful ecologies are stereotyped as equally slow life history strategists. These findings suggest that the content of several predominant race stereotypes may not reflect race, per se, but rather inferences about how one's ecology influences behavior.


Government instability shifts skin tone representations of and intentions to vote for political candidates

Chadly Stern et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, January 2016, Pages 76-95

Does government stability shift the way White and Black Americans represent and make voting decisions about political candidates? Participants judged how representative lightened, darkened, and unaltered photographs were of a racially ambiguous candidate ostensibly running for political office (Studies 1-3). When the governmental system was presented as stable, White participants who shared (vs. did not share) the candidate's political beliefs rated a lightened photo as more representative of the candidate, and Black participants who shared (vs. did not share) the candidate's political beliefs rated a darkened photo as more representative (Studies 1-3). However, under conditions of instability, both Whites and Blacks who shared (vs. did not share) the candidate's political beliefs rated a lightened photo as more representative (Study 3). Representations of (Studies 2 and 3) and actual differences in (Studies 4a and 4b) skin tone predicted intentions to vote for candidates, as a function of government stability and participants' race. Further evidence suggested that system stability shifted the motivations that guided voting decisions (Study 4a and 4b). When the system was stable, the motivation to enhance one's group predicted greater intentions to vote for lighter skinned candidates among Whites, and greater intentions to vote for darker skinned candidates among Blacks. When the system was unstable, however, lacking confidence in the sociopolitical system predicted intentions to vote for lighter skinned candidates among both Whites and Blacks. Implications for political leadership and social perception are discussed.


Racial Discrimination in the Sharing Economy: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Benjamin Edelman, Michael Luca & Dan Svirsky

Harvard Working Paper, December 2015

Online marketplaces increasingly choose to reduce the anonymity of buyers and sellers in order to facilitate trust. We demonstrate that this common market design choice results in an important unintended consequence: racial discrimination. In a field experiment on Airbnb, we find that requests from guests with distinctively African-American names are roughly 16% less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively White names. The difference persists whether the host is African American or White, male or female. The difference also persists whether the host shares the property with the guest or not, and whether the property is cheap or expensive. Discrimination is costly for hosts who indulge in it: hosts who reject African-American guests are able to find a replacement guest only 35% of the time. On the whole, our analysis suggests a need for caution: while information can facilitate transactions, it also facilitates discrimination.


It ain't easy eating greens: Evidence of bias toward vegetarians and vegans from both source and target

Cara MacInnis & Gordon Hodson
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Vegetarianism and veganism are increasingly prevalent in Western countries, yet anecdotal expressions of negativity toward vegetarians and vegans are common. We empirically tested whether bias exists toward vegetarians and vegans. In Study 1 omnivores evaluated vegetarians and vegans equivalently or more negatively than several common prejudice target groups (e.g., Blacks). Bias was heightened among those higher in right-wing ideologies, explained by heightened perceptions of vegetarian/vegan threat. Vegans (vs. vegetarians) and male (vs. female) vegetarians/vegans were evaluated more negatively overall. In Study 2 omnivores evaluated vegetarians and vegans more negatively than several nutritional outgroups (e.g., gluten intolerants) and evaluated vegan/vegetarians motivated by animal rights or environmental concerns (vs. health) especially negatively. In Study 3, vegetarians and especially vegans reported experiencing negativity stemming from their diets. Empirically documenting antivegetarian/vegan bias adds to a growing literature finding bias toward benign yet social norm-challenging others.


Bias in the Flesh: Skin Complexion and Stereotype Consistency in Political Campaigns

Solomon Messing, Maria Jabon & Ethan Plaut

Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming

There is strong evidence linking skin complexion to negative stereotypes and adverse real-world outcomes. We extend these findings to political ad campaigns, in which skin complexion can be easily manipulated in ways that are difficult to detect. Devising a method to measure how dark a candidate appears in an image, this paper examines how complexion varied with ad content during the 2008 presidential election campaign (study 1). Findings show that darker images were more frequent in negative ads - especially those linking Obama to crime - which aired more frequently as Election Day approached. We then conduct an experiment to document how these darker images can activate stereotypes, and show that a subtle darkness manipulation is sufficient to activate the most negative stereotypes about Blacks - even when the candidate is a famous counter-stereotypical exemplar - Barack Obama (study 2). Further evidence of an evaluative penalty for darker skin comes from an observational study measuring affective responses to depictions of Obama with varying skin complexion, presented via the Affect Misattribution Procedure in the 2008 American National Election Study (study 3). This study demonstrates that darker images are used in a way that complements ad content, and shows that doing so can negatively affect how individuals evaluate candidates and think about politics.


Race, Wealth, and Class Identification in 21st-Century American Society

Isaac Speer
Sociological Quarterly, forthcoming

This study examines the determinants of Americans' subjective class identities, using General Social Survey data from 2006. In particular, this study addresses the question of whether individuals' objective class positions, including wealth, account for differences in class identification between whites and blacks. The principal finding is that self-identified blacks have lower odds of identifying as middle class or upper class than self-identified whites, net of their objective class positions and their class origins. This finding suggests that the class identities of blacks are shaped by experiences of racial discrimination or by other elements of racial inequality.


The Aftermath and After the Aftermath of 9/11: Civility, Hostility, and Increased Friendliness

Carolyn Ristau & Paul Rozin
Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, forthcoming

An attack such as 9/11 engenders both increased in-group solidarity and other prosocial responses and increased hostility to out-group(s) including those perceived as similar to the presumed perpetrators. We report retrospective data collected from 5 to 11 months after 9/11, from 209 New York City taxi drivers. Judgments of their patrons by the taxi drivers indicate changes in civility (friendliness, politeness) that typically were most intense for the first week but continued to some degree for a few weeks to months, and some, the increased positivity experienced by Blacks, were present almost a year later. The direction of change depended on the ethnicity of the cab drivers: African Americans reported an increase in civility, whereas South Asian cab drivers reported a decrease in civility. The 9/11 attack seemed to improve public reaction to African Americans, perhaps because they were replaced by Middle-Easterners/South Asians as part of the "new enemy," the Muslim terrorists.


Racial attitude (dis)similarity and liking in same-race minority interactions

Randi Garcia, Hilary Bergsieker & Nicole Shelton Group

Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Two studies investigate the relationship between racial attitude (dis)similarity and interpersonal liking for racial minorities and Whites in same-race and cross-race pairs. In nationally representative and local samples, minorities report personally caring about racial issues more than Whites do (Pilot Study), which we theorize makes racial attitude divergence with ingroup members especially disruptive. Both established friendships (Study 1) and face-to-face interactions among strangers (Study 2) provided evidence for the dissimilarity-repulsion hypothesis in same-race interactions for minorities but not Whites. For minorities, disagreeing with a minority partner or friend about racial attitudes decreased their positivity toward that person. Because minorities typically report caring about race more than Whites, same-race friendships involving shared racial attitudes may be particularly critical sources of social support for them, particularly in predominately White contexts. Understanding challenges that arise in same-race interactions, not just cross-race interactions, can help create environments in which same-race minority friendships flourish.


Exposure to Muslims in Media and Support for Public Policies Harming Muslims

Muniba Saleem et al.
Communication Research, forthcoming

Few studies have empirically examined how media stereotypes of Muslims influence Americans' support for public policies exclusively harming Muslims. Across three studies, we tested the short-term and long-term effects of news portraying Muslims as terrorists on Americans' support for public policies harming Muslims domestically and internationally. Study 1 revealed that exposure to news portraying Muslims as terrorists is positively associated with support for military action in Muslim countries. Study 2 revealed that exposure to news portraying Muslims as terrorists is positively associated with support for public policies that harm Muslims domestically and internationally; this effect was fully mediated by perceptions of Muslims as aggressive. Experimental results from Study 3 revealed that exposing participants to negative Muslim media footage, relative to neutral or no-video footage, increased perceptions of Muslims as aggressive, increased support for harsh civil restrictions of Muslim Americans, and increased support for military action in Muslim countries. Exposure to positive Muslim footage yielded opposite results. We discuss the importance of media in exacerbating aggressive attitudes and public policies in the context of intergroup relations.


Gender Stereotypes in Spanish- and English-Language Television Advertisements in the United States

Michael Prieler
Mass Communication and Society, forthcoming

This study analyzed 394 U.S. Spanish- and English-language television advertisements from 2013 for differences in gender representation. The findings indicate a high prevalence of gender stereotypes in both samples. For example, more females than males were depicted as young and were usually shown at home. Males were generally fully dressed, whereas females were often suggestively dressed. Voiceovers were clearly dominated by males, and product categories were stereotypically associated with gender. Despite allegedly more traditional Latina/o gender role attitudes in society, this study found little variation between Spanish- and English language television advertisements in terms of gender stereotypes. The potential effects of such representations on audiences are discussed based on social cognitive theory and cultivation theory.


"We Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb...": Underground White Rappers' Hegemonic Masculinity and Racial Evasion

Matthew Oware
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

Employing the concept of racial evasion - a derivation of Bonilla-Silva's colorblind ideology theory - the author analyzes 237 songs of underground white and nonwhite rappers from 2006 to 2010. Performing a content analysis on their lyrics, the author finds that white artists make fewer references to racially political and social themes (e.g., racial profiling, police brutality, racist policies) than nonwhite artists-what the author terms racial evasion. The author speculates that white rappers, understanding that they operate in a specifically racialized black and brown cultural art form, deemphasize or mask their racial identity in their lyrics. This tactic is achieved through lyrically referencing hypermasculine tropes such as violence, misogyny, and homophobia to a greater degree than nonwhite artists. This work demonstrates the strategic use of hypermasculine discourse as a rhetorical strategy to achieve "hip hop authenticity" by minimizing or evading racial discourse within this popular cultural form. Furthermore, the author illustrates how the maintenance and manifestation of white male privilege operates via the process of deracialization as a form of meaning making. Ultimately, this work elaborates on the debate of "authenticity" within hip hop studies, providing a window into white racial identity construction within popular culture.


Psychological essentialism, gender, and parenthood: Physical transformation leads to heightened essentialist conceptions

Bernadette Park, Sarah Banchefsky & Elizabeth Reynolds

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, December 2015, Pages 949-967

Psychological essentialism is the tendency to view entities as if they have an underlying, often invisible essence that makes them what they are (Medin & Ortony, 1989), and the presence of a genetic basis for group membership contributes to such conceptions (Dar-Nimrod & Heine, 2011; Keller, 2005). We argue that undergoing visually salient physical transformations in the process of becoming a group member leads to particularly heightened essentialist conceptions. We test this idea in the context of parenthood. Public discourse suggests the category mother is imbued with special properties and is viewed as a deeper, more lasting, and real category than father. Such perceptions may contribute to unequal work outcomes for women relative to men. Collectively, the 5 studies reported show that mothers are perceived in more essentialist terms than fathers, and that physical changes women undergo in the process of becoming mothers play a substantial role in producing this difference. Moreover, viewing mothers as a particularly natural and real category predicted judgments that women struggle to successfully manage their roles as mothers and professionals, but only when motherhood was biological in nature. The role that observable physical transformations may play in the reification of categories is discussed.


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