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Prejudice and politics: Symbolic racism versus racial threats to the good life

Prejudice and politics: Symbolic racism versus racial threats to the good life Although theories of prejudice have been extensively catalogued, empirical confrontations between competing theories are rare. The present study tested 2 major theoretical approaches to prejudice by Whites against Blacks: realistic group conflict theory, which emphasizes the tangible threats Blacks might pose to Whites' private lives; and a sociocultural theory of prejudice termed symbolic racism, which emphasizes abstract, moralistic resentments of Blacks, presumably traceable to preadult socialization. The main dependent variable was suburban Whites' voting behavior in 2 mayoral elections in Los Angeles, both strongly influenced by racial issues, that matched the same 2 candidates, 1 Black and 1 White. In both elections, symbolic racism (sociocultural prejudice) was the major determinant of voting against the Black candidate for people removed from possible personal threats posed by Blacks as well as for those at risk. Direct racial threats to Whites' private lives (to their jobs, their neighborhoods, their children's schooling, their families' safety) had little effect on either anti-Black voting behavior or symbolic racism. Implications for theories of prejudice and for interpretations of the effects of voters' private lives on their political behavior are discussed. (32 ref) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Personality and Social Psychology American Psychological Association

Prejudice and politics: Symbolic racism versus racial threats to the good life

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Publisher
American Psychological Association
Copyright
Copyright © 1981 American Psychological Association
ISSN
0022-3514
eISSN
1939-1315
DOI
10.1037/0022-3514.40.3.414
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Although theories of prejudice have been extensively catalogued, empirical confrontations between competing theories are rare. The present study tested 2 major theoretical approaches to prejudice by Whites against Blacks: realistic group conflict theory, which emphasizes the tangible threats Blacks might pose to Whites' private lives; and a sociocultural theory of prejudice termed symbolic racism, which emphasizes abstract, moralistic resentments of Blacks, presumably traceable to preadult socialization. The main dependent variable was suburban Whites' voting behavior in 2 mayoral elections in Los Angeles, both strongly influenced by racial issues, that matched the same 2 candidates, 1 Black and 1 White. In both elections, symbolic racism (sociocultural prejudice) was the major determinant of voting against the Black candidate for people removed from possible personal threats posed by Blacks as well as for those at risk. Direct racial threats to Whites' private lives (to their jobs, their neighborhoods, their children's schooling, their families' safety) had little effect on either anti-Black voting behavior or symbolic racism. Implications for theories of prejudice and for interpretations of the effects of voters' private lives on their political behavior are discussed. (32 ref)

Journal

Journal of Personality and Social PsychologyAmerican Psychological Association

Published: Mar 1, 1981

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