White male fearlessness is explained

October 31, 2007

A U.S. study suggests the relative fearlessness of some white males is due to their cultural identity, and its influence on their appraisal of risks.

Yale Law School Professor Dan Kahan, who led the research, said it's been well documented that white men are less fearful of a broad array of risks than are women and minority group members. But the reasons for the phenomenon have not been clear.

Kahan and his colleagues studied risk perceptions regarding environmental issues, gun ownership, and abortion. They found the cultural identities of white men influenced their perceptions of an activity's risks.

"Individuals will subconsciously adapt their factual beliefs to their values," said Kahan. "If an activity is important to their cultural identities, they will infer it isn't dangerous; if that activity contravenes their cultural values, they will find it dangerous."

The study appears in the November issue of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Sound waves levitate cells to detect stiffness changes that could signal disease

Related Stories

VW admits commercial vehicles involved in pollution scam

September 29, 2015

Volkswagen said Tuesday that 1.8 million of its commercial vehicles worldwide are fitted with the sophisticated software enabling them to cheat emission tests, as the auto giant's new chief warned the group was facing the ...

The sun

September 28, 2015

The sun is the center of the Solar System and the source of all life and energy here on Earth. It accounts for more than 99.86% of the mass of the Solar System and it's gravity dominates all the planets and objects that orbit ...

New book makes case for fluidity of male sexuality

August 24, 2015

Straight white men have engaged in gay sex for centuries, and not just in circumstances that can be explained away as momentary aberrations, says Jane Ward, associate professor of gender and sexuality studies at the University ...

The gas giant Jupiter

August 26, 2015

Ever since the invention of the telescope four hundred years ago, astronomers have been fascinated by the gas giant known as Jupiter. Between it's constant, swirling clouds, its many, many moons, and its red spot, there are ...

Recommended for you

Four pre-Inca tombs found in Peru's Lima

November 27, 2015

Archaeologists in Peru have found four tombs that are more than 1,000 years old in a pyramid-shaped cemetery that now sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Lima, experts said.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2007
Interesting Story, but it is a pity that the reporter didn't give the idea of the designation of the experiment and the final data.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2007
? I'm gonna have to find that article when it comes out...

Personally I've never heard of this well documented fact that white men are more fearless (for a broad array of risks--which risks?) than women and minorities... in fact the only thing stopping me from calling out BS is that a Yale professor (of Law) says its well documented.

"They found the cultural identities of white men influenced their perceptions of an activity's risks."

ok, so a few things...

1) white men form parts of an enormous number of very diverse cultures - so were the researchers focusing on a particular white culture, or is this a general statement about all white men, regardless of which of the many cultures they are a part of?

2) wouldn't the cultural identities of other groups also influence members of those other groups' perceptions of an activities risk? Or is it only white males whose risk perceptions are influenced by their cultural identity?

3) what exactly is this broad array of risks to which white men are fearless? Is this array *broader* than the array of risks that members of other groups are fearless of?

4) Does it matter that he said "minority groups", instead of "other ethnic/racial groups"? White men aren't the dominant group in all cultures, would they still be fearless of a "broad array" of risks if they were the minority? It is, in fact, very plausible that being in a minority group can affect one's willingness to take risks, either more or less.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.