Framing inequity safely: Whites' motivated perceptions of racial privilege

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2007 Sep;33(9):1237-50. doi: 10.1177/0146167207303016. Epub 2007 Jun 7.


Racial inequity was theorized to threaten Whites' self-image when inequity is framed as White privilege but not when framed as anti-Black discrimination. Manipulations of Whites' need for self-regard were hypothesized to affect their perceptions of White privilege but not of anti-Black discrimination. In Experiment 1, White participants reported less privilege when given threatening (vs. affirming) feedback on an intelligence or personality test; in contrast, perceptions of anti-Black discrimination were unaffected by self-concept manipulations. In Experiment 2, threatening (vs. affirming) feedback decreased privilege perceptions only among Whites high in racial identity. Using a value-based self-affirmation manipulation, Experiment 3 replicated the effect of self-image concerns on Whites' perceptions of privilege and provided evidence that self-concerns, through their effect on perceived privilege, influence Whites' support for redistributive social policies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Black People
  • Black or African American
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice*
  • Race Relations*
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Dominance*
  • United States
  • White People / psychology*