Disfavor or Favor? Assessing the Valence of White Americans' Racial Attitudes

65 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020 Last revised: 27 Jan 2021

See all articles by Alexander Agadjanian

Alexander Agadjanian

University of California, Berkeley

John M. Carey

Dartmouth College

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Timothy J. Ryan

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Date Written: January 26, 2021

Abstract

When citizens' racial attitudes are associated with their judgments related to race---for example, when people with more negative attitudes toward Blacks are less likely to vote for a Black political candidate---existing studies routinely interpret it as evidence of prejudice against minorities. But theoretically, such associations can represent favoring minorities, disfavoring them, or a combination of both. We provide a conceptual framework to distinguish patterns of favoring and disfavoring against a standard of racial indifference, and test it with a pre-registered conjoint experiment. In our results, one widely-used measure---the Racial Resentment Scale (RRS)---captures favoring of Blacks substantially more than disfavoring. This finding calls for greater care in characterizing white Americans' racial attitudes and illustrates ways to improve future research designs. We also describe several extensions that integrate the distinction between favoring and disfavoring into the broader study of racial attitudes.

Keywords: racial attitudes, discrimination, prejudice, American politics, conjoint analysis

JEL Classification: C91, D63, D70, D80

Suggested Citation

Agadjanian, Alexander and Carey, John Michael and Horiuchi, Yusaku and Ryan, Timothy J., Disfavor or Favor? Assessing the Valence of White Americans' Racial Attitudes (January 26, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3701331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3701331

Alexander Agadjanian

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

525 F. Haas School of Business
Berkeley, CA
United States

John Michael Carey

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603 646 1130 (Phone)
603 646 2154 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~jcarey

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/horiuchi/

Timothy J. Ryan

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

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