Complex intersections of race and class: Among social liberals, learning about White privilege reduces sympathy, increases blame, and decreases external attributions for White people struggling with poverty
Erin Cooley et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming
White privilege lessons are sometimes used to increase awareness of racism. However, little research has investigated the consequences of these lessons. Across 2 studies (N = 1,189), we hypothesized that White privilege lessons may both highlight structural privilege based on race, and simultaneously decrease sympathy for other challenges some White people endure (e.g., poverty) — especially among social liberals who may be particularly receptive to structural explanations of inequality. Indeed, both studies revealed that while social liberals were overall more sympathetic to poor people than social conservatives, reading about White privilege decreased their sympathy for a poor White (vs. Black) person. Moreover, these shifts in sympathy were associated with greater punishment/blame and fewer external attributions for a poor White person’s plight. We conclude that, among social liberals, White privilege lessons may increase beliefs that poor White people have failed to take advantage of their racial privilege — leading to negative social evaluations.
EXPOsing Men's Gender Role Attitudes as Porn Superfans
Crystal Jackson et al.
Sociological Forum, forthcoming
Much contemporary debate about pornography centers on its role in portraying and perpetuating gender inequality. This article compares traditional gendered attitudes between cisgender men attending the Adult Entertainment Expo (n = 294) and a random sample of male respondents from the 2016 General Social Survey (GSS), a U.S. representative survey of general attitudes and beliefs collected every two years (n = 863). Our survey borrowed questions from the GSS to measure attitudes about gender equality across four dimensions: (1) working mothers, (2) women in politics, (3) traditional gender roles in the family, and (4) affirmative action for women in the workplace. Through bivariate analyses, we found that “porn superfans” are no more sexist or misogynistic than the general U.S. public on two of the four measures (women in politics and women in the general workplace) and held more progressive gender‐role attitudes than the general public on the other two measures. We conducted binary logistic regressions for those two measures to determine if the relationship remained significant when controlling for other factors. For one dimension, working mothers, it did (p < .001). Our results call into question some of the claims that porn consumption fosters de facto negative and hostile attitudes toward women.
Stability and Change in Implicit Bias
Heidi Vuletich & Keith Payne
Psychological Science, forthcoming
Can implicit bias be changed? In a recent longitudinal study, Lai and colleagues (2016, Study 2) compared nine interventions intended to reduce racial bias across 18 university campuses. Although all interventions changed participants’ bias on an immediate test, none were effective after a delay. This study has been interpreted as strong evidence that implicit biases are difficult to change. We revisited Lai et al.’s study to test whether the stability observed reflected persistent individual attitudes or stable environments. Our reanalysis (N = 4,842) indicates that individual biases did not return to preexisting levels. Instead, campus means returned to preexisting campus means, whereas individual scores fluctuated mostly randomly. Campus means were predicted by markers of structural inequality. Our results are consistent with the theory that implicit bias reflects biases in the environment rather than individual dispositions. This conclusion is nearly the opposite of the original interpretation: Although social environments are stable, individual implicit biases are ephemeral.
I Know (What) You Are, But What Am I? The Effect of Recategorization Threat and Perceived Immutability on Prejudice
Katherine Fritzlen et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming
Learning one is similar to a stigmatized group can threaten one’s identity and prompt disassociation from the group. What are the consequences of learning of a similarity to a stigmatized group when that similarity implies possible recategorization into the group? We investigated how learning of an immutable, recategorization implying similarity with an outgroup affects implicitly and explicitly assessed prejudice. In Study 1, White participants who believed they had above average genetic overlap with African Americans showed decreased prejudice on implicit but not explicit measures. In Study 2, straight/heterosexual participants who were led to believe they exhibited some same-sex attraction showed reduced implicitly assessed prejudice, but only if they believed sexual orientation was biologically determined. Thus, learning of an identity-implying similarity with an outgroup can reduce implicit prejudice if that group membership is believed to be immutable. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Inter-racial Gateways: The Potential of Biracials to Reduce Threat and Prejudice in Inter-racial Dynamics
Aharon Levy et al.
Race and Social Problems, June 2019, Pages 119–132
We test the notion that the presence of a dual identity group, which partially shares both the ingroup and a relevant outgroup identity, can decrease intergroup prejudice. Previous research has demonstrated that such dual identity groups can act as a possible gateway between the groups that represent the respective sources of the dual identity. The current research applies this notion to the inter-racial context in the United States, focusing on the case of biracial individuals as having dual identities, and thus as potential gateways between blacks and whites. Specifically, we tested the prediction that exposure of whites to biracial individuals would decrease intergroup threat which in turn would decrease prejudice toward blacks. Findings from three studies supported this prediction and showed that the presence of biracial individuals reduced intergroup threat and prejudice among those most likely to harbor them (specifically, those high on social dominance orientation). We discuss the implications of our findings in terms of how this effect corresponds with current theoretical developments on dual identity, and possible practical social implications.
Imagine All The Synchrony: The effects of actual and imagined synchronous walking on attitudes towards marginalised groups
Gray Atherton, Natalie Sebanz & Liam Cross
PLoS ONE, May 2019
Stereotyping is a pervasive societal problem that impacts not only minority groups but subserves individuals who perpetuate stereotypes, leading to greater distance between groups. Social contact interventions have been shown to reduce prejudice and stereotyping, but optimal contact conditions between groups are often out of reach in day to day life. Therefore, we investigated the effects of a synchronous walking intervention, a non-verbal embodied approach to intergroup contact that may reduce the need for optimal contact conditions. We studied attitude change towards the Roma group in Hungary following actual and imagined walking, both in a coordinated and uncoordinated manner. Results showed that coordinated walking, both imagined and in vivo, led to explicit and implicit reductions in prejudice and stereotyping towards both the Roma individual and the wider Roma social group. This suggests that coordinated movement could be a valuable addition to current approaches towards prejudice reduction.
Effects of minimal grouping on implicit prejudice, infrahumanization, and neural processing despite orthogonal social categorizations
Jeremy Simon & Jennifer Gutsell
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming
Racial prejudice is a pervasive and pernicious form of intergroup bias. However, a mounting number of studies show that recategorization — even into minimal groups — can overcome the typical consequences of racial and other group classifications. We tested the effects of minimal grouping on implicit prejudice and infrahumanization using a paradigm in which race was orthogonal to group membership. This allowed us to examine whether knowledge of group membership overrides obvious category differences. We found that participants infrahumanized and showed implicit bias toward the minimal outgroup, despite the cross-cutting presence of race, and in fact did not show any of the usual implicit racial bias. In addition, event-related potentials (ERPs) showed an early race effect followed by distinct reactions on the basis of group as processing continued. This is evidence that arbitrary social classifications can engender ingroup preference even in the presence of orthogonal, visually salient categorizations.
The Ease of Hard Work: Embodied Neoliberalism among Rocky Mountain Fun Runners
Qualitative Sociology, June 2019, Pages 251–271
In contemporary Western countries, thin, fit, and “healthy” bodies operate as important markers of social status. This paper draws together Foucauldian and Bourdieusian literatures on this topic to investigate how “embodied neoliberalism” (internalized individualism and self-responsibility) intersects with performances of “embodied cultural capital” (high-status markers used to create social distinction). Through an ethnographic case study of upper-middle class white “Fun Runners” in Boulder, Colorado, I ask how people with culturally valued thin, fit bodies enact social status and produce exclusion in an interactional setting. My findings challenge a straightforward translation of “hard work” into status, as we might expect based on neoliberal discourse. Instead, I argue that runners engage in two simultaneous (seemingly paradoxical) forms of boundary work: First, they perform hard work, discipline, and deservingness – drawing boundaries against those who do not engage in the work of bodily discipline; Second, they perform ease and fun – drawing boundaries against those who lack the habitus to make this work appear easy and natural. I contend that the resulting performance of the “ease of hard work” makes the status of thin, fit bodies appear both earned and natural, a doubly effective means of producing exclusion and legitimizing status. These findings reveal that embodied neoliberalism intersects with race and class-based habitus, while also shedding light on how people in privileged positions claim to “deserve” their status through narratives of color-blind meritocracy despite evidence of structural inequalities.
A New Type of (White) Provider: Shifting Masculinities in Mainstream Country Music from the 1980s to the 2010s
Rural Sociology, forthcoming
Masculinities have been rearranged in rural communities across the United States over the last four decades in response to shifting socioeconomic conditions. However, whether and how rural masculinity has been redefined at the national level over this same time period has received less attention. This paper presents a longitudinal analysis of representations of masculinity in mainstream country music from the 1980s to the 2010s. Analyzing the lyrics from over 800 weeks of songs that topped the Billboard country music charts, I find that working‐class occupations and heterosexuality were relatively consistent components of representations of men across these decades. There were also two notable transformations. Depictions of providing shifted away from a traditional breadwinner toward men providing women with alcohol, transportation, and places to hook up. Masculinity and whiteness also became more closely linked. I argue that these rearranged intersections of gender, class, sexuality, and race enable the continued reproduction of gendered inequalities amid rural men’s worsening employment prospects. These results suggest shifting intersections of gender, class, sexuality, and race will inform how gendered inequalities are reproduced as socioeconomic conditions continue to transform in rural communities.
Shaping the Body Politic: Mass Media Fat-Shaming Affects Implicit Anti-Fat Attitudes
Amanda Ravary, Mark Baldwin & Jennifer Bartz
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming
The human psyche is profoundly shaped by its cultural milieu; however, few studies have examined the dynamics of cultural influence in everyday life, especially when it comes to shaping people’s automatic, implicit attitudes. In this quasi-experimental field study, we investigated the effect of transient, but salient, cultural messages — the pop-cultural phenomenon of celebrity “fat-shaming” — on implicit anti-fat attitudes in the population. Adopting the “copycat suicide” methodology, we identified 20 fat-shaming events in the media; next, we obtained data from Project Implicit of participants who had completed the Weight Implicit Association Test from 2004 to 2015. As predicted, fat-shaming led to a spike in women’s (N=93,239) implicit anti-fat attitudes, with events of greater notoriety producing greater spikes. We also observed a general increase in implicit anti-fat attitudes over time. Although these passing comments may appear harmless, we show that feedback at the cultural level can be registered by the “body politic.”
Memory (Mis)Matches: Accurate and Biased Recall of Terror Suspects
Evolutionary Psychological Science, June 2019, Pages 213–219
Evolutionary psychologists suggest that memory retention is enhanced for fitness-relevant stimuli, a notion commonly referred to as adaptive memory. Since intergroup conflict has been — and continues to be — associated with grave costs to our species, human beings should be more vigilant to coalitional threat cues. This study tests the assumption that recognition memory is enhanced for coalitional threat cues in the domain of terrorist violence. In a survey experiment on a nationally representative sample of 1473 white, American adults, participants were exposed to eight experimental vignettes including subtle coalitional threat cues pertaining to terror-suspect sex, ethnicity, and coalition size. The results suggest that male outgroup coalitions are associated with enhanced recognition memory. Further, those who failed to correctly recognize the threat cues exhibited tendencies for bias. Specifically, and in line with error management theory, participants who were exposed to female terror suspects, ingroup perpetrators, and individual perpetrators were more likely to commit false positive errors. Overall, these findings speak to our coalitional psychology, which continues to factor into intuitions about mass violence today. Not only do people seem more alert to cues implying coalitional aggression — associated biases might also reduce or distort the attention that threats from female suspects, lone wolves, and ingroup attackers receive at the level of public debate.
Justice Agents: Discriminated Group Members Are Perceived to be Highly Committed to Social Justice
Tamar Saguy et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming
We propose that because members of discriminated (vs. advantaged) groups have a history of dealing with injustice, majority group members expect them to be more committed to social justice. By commitment to social justice, we mean supporting, and caring for, the basic rights of virtually any marginalized group. Studies 1a (N = 145) and 1b (N = 120) revealed that members of discriminated (vs. relatively advantaged) groups were seen as having a stronger commitment to social justice. This was explained by participants’ perception of discriminated groups as having a tradition of fighting injustice (Study 2; N = 174). Demonstrating implications of these perceptions, discriminated (relative to advantaged) group members were assigned more justice-related roles in the workplace (Study 3a: N = 120; Study 3b: N = 126; Study 4: N = 133), and their justice-related initiatives were rated more negatively (Study 5: N = 259). Theoretical and practical implications regarding minority–majority relations and minorities’ ability to advance in workplace hierarchies are discussed.
Engaging White participants in racial dialogues: Group composition and dialogue structure
Meredith Tittler & Nathaniel Wade
Group Dynamics, forthcoming
One effective strategy for combatting racism and promoting understanding across racial lines is structured dialogue (e.g., Nagda, 2006). Previous research on structured racial dialogues has used a self-selecting participant pool of individuals who are motivated to participate in racial dialogues (e.g., Gurin, Nagda, & Zúñiga, 2013). However, previous research suggests that many White individuals may be avoidant of racial dialogues and certain aspects of a dialogue might increase or decrease this avoidance (e.g., Sue, 2013). In the current study, we examined 2 main factors that might affect White college students’ willingness to participate in a racial dialogue and share their thoughts honestly: racial composition of the group and structuring of the dialogue with ground rules. Participants read 1 of 4 randomly assigned vignettes of a racial dialogue varying across the 2 variables (mixed-race vs. all-White; structured vs. not-structured). The results revealed a significant interaction between the racial make-up of the dialogue group and the structure of the group on participants’ predicted willingness to share their honest thoughts. We found that participants predicted being more willing to share their thoughts in structured, mixed-race groups than in structured, all-White groups, or mixed-race groups. We also found that structured dialogues led participants to report more interest in participating in a similar group on campus.
White Men Holding on for Dear Life and Taking It: A Content Analysis of the Gender and Race of the Victims and Killers in The Walking Dead
Jacob Turner & Lisa Perks
Sex Roles, forthcoming
The present content analysis of the first seven seasons of AMC’s hit zombie thriller, The Walking Dead, revealed that of the 122 characters who were killed, most were White (78.7%) and male (75.4%), and the 87 characters who did the killings were also mostly White (82.6%) and male (60.9%). The show’s creators, then, have envisioned a post-apocalyptic society that is (mostly) White men killing off (mostly) White men in a sort of White male survivalist fantasy. Current results also revealed that of the female characters who met their death, 33% were lead characters, whereas only 16% of the male character deaths were leads. So although women die at comparable rates to the men on the show generally and are granted some agency by carrying out many of the killings, the show’s propensity to kill off major female characters with more dispatch than lead men ultimately reveals the women’s vulnerability when compared to the patriarchal survivors and leaders on the show. Social cognitive theory is used to speculate about the possible effects the popular cable TV program might have on audience members in the United States and worldwide.
Captain Dorito and the bombshell: Supernormal stimuli in comics and film
Rebecca Burch & Laura Johnsen
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming
We examined the visualization of male and female superheroes, paying attention to physical dimensions and costuming that accentuated hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine features such as shoulder-to-waist ratio, jawlines, upper body muscularity, waist-to-hip ratio, and breast morphology. Body mass index (BMI) data were collected for 3,752 Marvel comic characters. Males were on average “obese” whereas females averaged at the low end of normal weight. The male higher body mass was caused by extreme upper body muscularity, with male shoulder-to-waist ratios far above human limits. This is in stark contrast to low weight female superhero bodies with far lower waist-to-hip ratios than average humans. The endocrine markers that are exaggerated in these depictions create supernormal sexual stimuli for each sex.