All prejudice isn't created equal; whites distribute it unequally to minorities

The Declaration of Independence may proclaim that all men are created equal, but American whites tend to distribute their prejudice unequally toward certain members of minority groups, according to new research.

A series of six studies conducted by University of Washington and Michigan State University psychologists shows that whites react more negatively to racial minority individuals who strongly identify with their racial group than to racial minority individuals who weakly identify with their group.

The research, published in the current issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, provides an explanation for why some Blacks report personally experiencing more prejudice than others.

"Research has shown that the more minorities identify with their group, the more prejudice they report experiencing," said Kaiser. "Most research has explained this finding by focusing on factors within minorities that make some individuals more susceptible to perceiving prejudice than others. Our studies provide an alternative explanation by showing that whites react more negatively toward strongly identified minorities than weakly identified ones."

The researchers believe strongly identified minorities are not paranoid in claiming they experience increased levels of prejudice and weakly identified minorities are not being self-deceptive when they report experiencing low levels of prejudice. Instead, they just may simply be reporting on reality as they experience it.

"Take a situation where a person is ambiguously rejected for a new job," she said. "A person with a strong minority identification might wonder if the rejection was due to prejudice while one with a weak minority identification might not. If you experience more prejudice you expect more prejudice. These things work in tandem and feed each other."

Kaiser and her colleague recruited nearly 400 college students for the six studies that measured whites' attitudes toward Blacks and Latinos. They also were surveyed on their general attitudes about Blacks or Latinos, depending on the study. In the studies, minorities were either described as being strongly identified (where their group was very important and a central aspect of their self) or weakly identified (where their group was less important and not at the core of their self).

She said individuals typically want to be around others who share their values and exclude people who don't share those values or world views. The research indicated that whites perceived strongly identified minorities as less likely to share similar worldviews with them relative to weakly identified minorities.

"We are not arguing that minorities should not identify with their group," said Kaiser. "Such identification can be important and provides meaning, self worth and identity.

"Some research about prejudice has tended to lump members of minorities into homogenous groups. But there is a lot of heterogeneity. People differ in looks, language ability, attitudes and many other ways, but we tend not to pay attention to these factors. That's why it is important to identify those subsets in groups, why people react to them and what are the active ingredients of prejudice. Whites need to understand that they distribute prejudice unevenly and target those who strongly self-identify as being Black."

Source: University of Washington

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Citation: All prejudice isn't created equal; whites distribute it unequally to minorities (2009, February 25) retrieved 16 September 2019 from
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Feb 25, 2009
"Research has shown that the more minorities identify with their group, the more prejudice they report experiencing,"
I think that says it all right there.
The more emphasis and importance one places on their "differences" the more persecuted they are going to feel.
It's plain psychology. The more one feels that they are a 'minority' the more they will feel isolated from 'white people', What ever that even means anymore.
I%u2019m curious what race the researchers were.

Feb 26, 2009
This article reads like the "researchers" came into these studies with a strong anti-white bias. Specifically, it seems they are suggesting that only non-whites can experience racial prejudics, and only whites can be the cause of racial prejudice.

I would have liked to see the study include intra-racial prejudice (among the same race, those who weakly identify vs those who strongly identify), as well as the other permutations - they tested for white vs black but not black vs white, black vs asian, asian vs latino, et cet.

Feb 26, 2009
"American" is not a race. You would be challenged to find anyone who has been in the USA for more than two generations that identifies with a "race" or nationality as their primary identity.

"American" is a creed and a collection of ideologies. We are a collection of many races who have been in the process of merging for about 200 years.

We have an unique awareness of our national identity because it has evolved into something other than race-based. When there is contention and discrimination, it isn't because of race or color, it's because that person is perceived as not integrated or "non-American".

I don't have any problem with this type of discrimination. We must keep pressure on newcomers to integrate and assimilate into our ideology of liberty (even if this is merely conceptual these days). We cannot allow strangers into our land to continue their foreign creeds, and we cannot allow too many immigrants to overlow our capacity to absorb.

Our success as a nation depends our our unique ability to merge ourselves into a united culture with compatible ideologies and love for one another. Our public policies need to reinforce and preserve this.

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