Racial progress as threat to the status hierarchy: implications for perceptions of anti-White bias

Psychol Sci. 2014 Feb;25(2):439-46. doi: 10.1177/0956797613508412. Epub 2013 Dec 16.


In three studies, we examined how racial progress affects Whites' perceptions of anti-White bias. When racial progress was chronically (Study 1) and experimentally (Study 2) salient, Whites who believed the current U.S. status hierarchy was legitimate were more likely to report that Whites were victims of racial discrimination. In contrast, Whites who perceived the current status system as illegitimate were unaffected by the salience of racial progress. The results of Study 3 point to the role of threat in explaining these divergent reactions to racial progress. When self-affirmed, Whites who perceived the status hierarchy as legitimate no longer showed increased perceptions of anti-White bias when confronted with evidence of racial progress. Implications for policies designed to remedy social inequality are discussed.

Keywords: anti-White bias; discrimination; prejudice; racial-ethnic attitudes and relations; social perception; status-legitimizing beliefs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Racism / ethnology*
  • Racism / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Social Change*
  • Social Dominance*
  • United States / ethnology
  • White People / ethnology*