White male fearlessness is explained

Oct 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

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User comments : 2

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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.
fredrick
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.