Disfavor or Favor? Assessing the Valence of White Americans' Racial Attitudes
65 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020 Last revised: 27 Jan 2021
Date Written: January 26, 2021
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: Suggested Citation