Living up to the hype

Kevin Lewis

October 19, 2017

White’s Perceptions of Biracial Individuals’ Race Shift When Biracials Speak Out Against Bias
Leigh Wilton, Aneeta Rattan & Diana Sanchez
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


Previous research suggests that a person’s racial identity shapes the way others respond when that person speaks out against racial prejudice. In the present research, we consider instead how speaking out against racial prejudice shapes people’s impressions of a confronter’s racial identity, such as experiences with discrimination, stereotype enactment, and even phenotype. Two experiments found that White perceivers evaluated a Black/White biracial person who spoke out against (vs. remained silent to) racial prejudice as more stigmatized and Black identified and as having more stereotypically Black (vs. White) preferences and Black (vs. White) ancestry when they confronted. The faces of biracial confronters (vs. nonconfronters) were also recalled as more phenotypically Black (vs. White; S2). This evidence suggests that speaking out against bias colors Whites’ impressions of a biracial target across both subjective and objective measures of racial identity. Implications for interracial interactions and interpersonal perception are discussed.

When Sexism Leads to Racism: Threat, Protecting Women, and Racial Bias
Jean McMahon & Kimberly Barsamian Kahn
Sex Roles, forthcoming


The stated goal of protecting White women from harm has been used, historically and contemporarily, as a pretext for racial violence. Two studies explored the relationship between protective paternalism (the belief that men should protect and care for women — part of benevolent sexism; Glick and Fiske 1996) and anti-minority racial attitudes. In Study 1 (n = 474, 61% women, 61% White), survey data found that protective paternalism was related to anti-Black bias, but only for White respondents. Study 2 (n = 242, 52% women, 74% White) experimentally manipulated feelings of threat to test for increases in protective paternalism and its corresponding effect on three anti-minority racial attitudes. For male participants only, threat (i.e., reading about recent increases in violent crime) increased endorsement of protective paternalism, which was in turn associated with a more negative view of immigration, and, for White men only, less support for policies that benefit racial minority groups and greater denial of racial bias in policing. Threat did not increase protective paternalism in female participants. For White men in particular, news of crime and danger increases racial bias by first increasing the desire to protect women. Policymakers should be aware that framing policies around safety concerns or appealing to the protection of women might unintentionally bolster anti-minority racial prejudices.

Information about the US racial demographic shift triggers concerns about anti-White discrimination among the prospective White “minority”
Maureen Craig & Jennifer Richeson
PLoS ONE, September 2017


The United States is undergoing a demographic shift in which White Americans are predicted to comprise less than 50% of the US population by mid-century. The present research examines how exposure to information about this racial shift affects perceptions of the extent to which different racial groups face discrimination. In four experiments, making the growing national racial diversity salient led White Americans to predict that Whites will face increasing discrimination in the future, compared with control information. Conversely, regardless of experimental condition, Whites estimated that discrimination against various racial minority groups will decline. Explorations of several psychological mechanisms potentially underlying the effect of the racial shift information on perceived anti-White discrimination suggested a mediating role of concerns about American culture fundamentally changing. Taken together, these findings suggest that reports about the changing national demographics enhance concerns among Whites that they will be the victims of racial discrimination in the future.

Race and Recession: Effects of Economic Scarcity on Racial Discrimination
Amy Krosch, Tom Tyler & David Amodio
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


When the economy declines, existing racial disparities typically expand, suggesting that economic scarcity may promote racial discrimination. To understand this pattern, we examined the effect of perceived scarcity on resource allocations to Black and White American recipients, and tested whether this effect depends on a decision maker’s motivation to respond without prejudice. We proposed that scarcity would lead to increased discrimination among those with relatively low internal motivation but not those high in internal motivation. Indeed, we found that when resources were framed as scarce (vs. abundant or a control condition), low-motivation participants allocated less to Black than White recipients, whereas high-motivation participants allocated more to Black than White recipients (Studies 1 and 2). This pattern was strongest when decisions could be made deliberatively (Study 3), and anti-Black allocation bias emerged even in a non-zero-sum context (Studies 4 and 5), suggesting a strategic bias directed against Black recipients rather than in favor of White recipients. These findings indicate that the psychological perception of scarcity can produce racial bias in the distribution of economic resources, depending on the motivations of the decision maker — an effect that may contribute to the increase in racial disparities observed during economic stress.

The Diffusion of Tolerance: Birth Cohort Changes in the Effects of Education and Income on Political Tolerance
Philip Schwadel & Christopher Garneau
Sociological Forum, forthcoming


Political tolerance — the willingness to extend civil liberties to traditionally stigmatized groups — is pivotal to the functioning of democracy and the well-being of members of stigmatized groups. Although political tolerance has traditionally been more common among American elites, we argue that as tolerance has increased, it has also diffused to less educated and less affluent segments of the population. The relative stability of political attitudes over the life course and the socialization of more recent birth cohorts in contexts of increased tolerance suggest that this diffusion of tolerance occurs across birth cohorts rather than time periods. Using age-period-cohort models and more than three and a half decades of repeated cross-sectional survey data, we find persistent and robust across-cohort declines in the importance of both income and higher education in determining levels of political tolerance. Declines in the effects of socioeconomic status are evident with tolerance toward all five out-groups in the analysis — anti-religionists, gays and lesbians, communists, militarists, and racists — but to varying degrees. These findings fit with a model of changes in public opinion, particularly views of civil and political rights, through processes of cultural diffusion and cohort replacement.

Sexual objectification decreases women’s experiential consumption (but not material consumption)
Fei Teng, Xue Wang & Ye Yang
Social Influence, forthcoming


The current investigation examined our prediction that sexual objectification decreases women’s experiential consumption but not material consumption. Three experiments provided converging support for this prediction. In particular, female participants reported lower tendency to engage in experiential consumption after recalling a past experience of objectification (Studies 1 and 3) and chose a material product over an experiential one after receiving objectifying comments (Study 2). Furthermore, Study 3 found that sexual objectification reduced purchase inclination of experiential products, and this effect did not emerge for material products. These findings contribute to the literature on sexual objectification by showing the impact of sexual objectification on women’s economic decisions and behaviors.

The Visible Host: Does race guide Airbnb rental rates in San Francisco?
Venoo Kakar et al.
Journal of Housing Economics, forthcoming


Peer to Peer e-commerce is increasingly characterized by trends towards the personalization of buyers and sellers in the on-line marketplace. This personalization includes buyer reviews, personal pictures and profiles, and other biographical information intended to reduce buyers’ perceived “purchase risk” or to facilitate trust in the sellers. However, this phenomenon is transforming what started as an essentially “anonymous” market to one susceptible to traditional market failures, including potential racial discrimination, in a manner similar to its brick and mortar counterparts. In this paper, we examine the effect of on-line host information (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) on the price of available rental listings in San Francisco on We find that on average, Asian and Hispanic hosts charge 8%-10% lower prices relative to their White counterparts on equivalent rental properties, after controlling for all renter-available information on rental unit characteristics, as well as additional information on neighborhood property values, area demographics, and occupancy rates. We do not find any differences in occupancy rates between minority and White hosts. This may suggest that minorities price lower because they are forward-looking, perhaps due to an expectation of discrimination in the online marketplace or have a preference to increase demand to either maintain their target occupancy level or to attract a larger pool of potential renters to choose from. Overall, our findings are consistent with but not conclusive of a market test of potential racial discrimination affecting Hispanic Airbnb hosts, manifested in an anticipation of disparate market demand for their rentals, and responded to by lower listing prices.

Examining differential treatment of single mothers and people with disabilities in the apartment rental market
Bryan Tomlin
Economics Letters, December 2017, Pages 34-37


This paper attempts to improve our understanding of rental market experiences of single mothers and people with disabilities. Inquiry emails randomly assigned a signal of disability receive 12.5% fewer responses than control emails, and those signaling single-motherhood receive 14.3% fewer.

Foreign-Looking Native-Accented People: More Competent When First Seen Rather Than Heard
Karolina Hansen, Tamara Rakić & Melanie Steffens
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


Psychological research has neglected people whose accent does not match their appearance. Most research on person perception has focused on appearance, overlooking accents that are equally important social cues. If accents were studied, it was often done in isolation (i.e., detached from appearance). We examine how varying accent and appearance information about people affects evaluations. We show that evaluations of expectancy-violating people shift in the direction of the added information. When a job candidate looked foreign, but later spoke with a native accent, his evaluations rose and he was evaluated best of all candidates (Experiment 1a). However, the sequence in which information was presented mattered: When heard first and then seen, his evaluations dropped (Experiment 1b). Findings demonstrate the importance of studying the combination and sequence of different types of information in impression formation. They also allow predicting reactions to ethnically mixed people, who are increasingly present in modern societies.

Statistically inaccurate and morally unfair judgements via base rate intrusion
Jack Cao, Max Kleiman-Weiner & Mahzarin Banaji
Nature Human Behaviour, October 2017


From a statistical standpoint, judgements about an individual are more accurate if base rates about the individual’s social group are taken into account. But from a moral standpoint, using these base rates is considered unfair and can even be illegal. Thus, the imperative to be statistically accurate is directly at odds with the imperative to be morally fair. This conflict was resolved by creating tasks in which Bayesian rationality and moral fairness were aligned, thereby allowing social judgements to be both accurate and fair. Despite this alignment, we show that social judgements were inaccurate and unfair. Instead of appropriately setting aside social group differences, participants erroneously relied on them when making judgements about specific individuals. This bias — which we call base rate intrusion — was robust, generalized across various social groups (gender, race, nationality and age), and differed from analogous non-social judgements. Results also demonstrate how social judgements can be corrected to achieve both statistical accuracy and moral fairness. Overall, these data (total N = 5,138) highlight the pernicious effects of social base rates: under conditions that closely approximate those of everyday life, these base rates can undermine the rationality and fairness of human judgements.


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