Study Finds that Whites Think More Highly of ‘African-Americans’ than They do ‘Blacks’

NAACP rally. (Photo: Rowan Fairgrove/Flickr)
NAACP rally. (Photo: Rowan Fairgrove/Flickr)

White Americans are fine with African-Americans. Blacks, however, are a different story.

That’s the disturbing implication of a new study, which finds the way a person of color is labeled can impact how he or she is perceived.

In the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, a research team led by Emory University’s Erika Hall argues that “the racial label ‘black’ evokes a mental representation of a person with lower socioeconomic status than the racial label ‘African-American.’”

“The content embedded in the black stereotype is generally more negative, and less warm and competent, than that in the African-American stereotype,” the researchers write. “These different associations carry consequences for how whites perceive Americans of African descent who are labeled with either term.”

Hall and her colleagues demonstrate this phenomenon, and its implications, in a series of experiments. In the first, 106 white Americans were given a list of 75 traits such as “athletic,” “aggressive,” and “bold,” and asked to choose the 10 they felt were most descriptive of a specific group of people they were randomly assigned to evaluate. One-quarter of them selected the best traits for blacks, while others did the same for Africans-Americans, whites, and Caucasians.

“The stereotype content for blacks was significantly more negative than for African-Americans,” the researchers write. “In contrast, the stereotype content for African-Americans did not significantly differ in perceived negativity from that of whites.”

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SOURCE: Tom Jacobs 
Pacific Standard

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