Aversive Form of Racism Samuel Gaertner & John Dovidio
Historical Change • White attitudes less racist, more tolerant • Subtle, indirect prejudice continues • “Racist feelings and beliefs among white Americans are generally the rule rather than the exception.”
Aversive Racists • Sympathize with victims of past injustice • Support policies for promoting equality • Still possess negative feelings & beliefs: • Cognitive basis in info processing (blacks assoc. with poverty, crime, welfare) • Not hostility or hatred, but “discomfort, uneasiness, disgust, and sometimes fear.” • Unable to recognize institutional racism
Question • Gaertner & Dovidio cite Kovel on “aversive” racism • But is this “aversive” racism or how attitudes work in conditions of “metaracism”?
Studies:“pro-social” behavior • Wrong-number phone calls • Anagram task • Cognitive ability task • Bystander helping • Adjective association
Wrong-number calls “Black” vs. “White” callers asked S-s to call car garage
Interpretation • Conservatives: blatant prejudice • Liberals: • where norms strong (after hearing request), no prejudice • Before norms come into effect, prejudice
Anagram Helping Task White vs. black “student” confederates ask S-s for help • Design: 2 x 2 x 2 factorial -- white S-s • White vs. black student confederates • Internal cause (failure to work hard) vs. external cause (difficulty of task) • First party request vs. 3rd party request • Dependent Variable: White S-s help or don’t help confederate
Anagram Helping Task • Results • External cause: equal helping • 3rd party request: equal helping • Internal cause + self-request: 73% whites helped 33% blacks helped
Interpretation • Where norms for helping salient --external cause; bystander request -- helping not discriminatory • Where norms for helping not salient --internal cause, self-request -- helping is discriminatory.
Cognitive Task Help-Seeking Black / white “partners” offer help; S-s may ask for help. • Design: 2 x 2 white S-s • Black vs. white “partners” (confederates) • Help offered vs. help sought • Results: • Offered: 80% S-s accepted from black 55% S-s accepted from white • Solicited: 40% S-s asked help from black 60% S-s asked help from white
Interpretation • When black asks for help, both hi-prejudice & low-prejudice subjects help • When norms for helping strong, helping not discriminatory Note Interaction Effect: S helps black more than white when asked, & S asks whites more than blacks for help
Status and Helping We’re skipping this experiment!
Bystander Helping White bystanders may help white or black “victim.” • Background: • Darley & Latane paradigm: More bystanders less help • Design: 2 x 2 White S-s • Chairs fall on confed during “ESP” exp • White vs. Black “victims” • Subject alone vs. with other bystanders
Bystander Helping: Results • Victim alone: • S-s help 94% of blacks vs. 81% of whites (n.s.) • Victim with bystanders: • S-s help 38% of blacks vs. 75% of whites
Jury Simulartion Experiment We’re skipping this one,too!
Adjective Association Task White students try to recognize words. • Task: decide whether string of letters is a word • Measure reaction time • Design: 2 x 2 White S-s • Positive vs. negative adjectives • Paired with “whites” or “blacks”
Adjective Assoc. Task: Results • Negative adjectives: • No differences paired w/ “whites” or “blacks” • Positive adjectives: • Faster reactions when paired w/ “whites” than “blacks” • No difs between hi- & low-prejudice S-s • Whites associate positive traits with whites
Association Priming Study We’re skipping this one too!
Conclusions • Helping behavior: • Where norms for helping clear & strong, whites do not discriminate • Where norms ambiguous or weak, whites do discriminate
Conclusions • Associations: • Blacks not evaluated as more lazy, stupid, or dirty • Whites evaluated as more ambitious, smart and clean
Conclusions In most studies, high-prejudice whites and low-prejudice whites don’t differ much in their behavior.
Conclusions “Prejudiced thinking and discrimination still exist, but the contemporary forms are more subtle, more indirect, and less overtly negative…” “The contemporary form of prejudice is expressed in ways that protect and perpetuate a nonprejudiced, non-discriminating self-image.”
Conclusions “Attempts to educate people to accept egalitarian ideals would have little impact on aversive racists…” “Like a virus that mutates into new forms, old-fashioned prejudice seems to have evolved into a new type that is, at least temporarily, resistant to traditional attitude-change remedies…”
Questions • Interpretation: Is salience & strength of norms a crucial factor? • Concept of “aversive” racism: Prejudice but conforms to P.C. norms? Anti-prejudice but succumbs to stereotypes