Appeasement: Whites’ Strategic Support for Affirmative Action

Appeasement: Whites’ Strategic Support for Affirmative Action

By
Rossalind M. Chow, Brian Lowery, Caitlin M. Hogan
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. March
1, 2013, Vol. 39, Issue 3, Pages 332-345

This article explores the possibility that dominant-group members will attempt to appease subordinate groups to protect the hierarchy. In four studies, we find that (a) prohierarchy Whites perceive more intergroup threat when they believe ethnic minorities hold Whites in low regard, (b) prohierarchy Whites respond to ethnic minorities’ low regard for Whites by increasing their support for redistributive policies (e.g., affirmative action), (c) the increase in support only occurs when prohierarchy Whites perceive the hierarchy to be unstable, and (d) prohierarchy Whites perceive the hierarchy to be more stable if they believe Whites support redistributive policies. These results suggest that prohierarchy dominant-group members’ support for redistributive policies can stem from a concern about maintaining the hierarchical status quo, and provides evidence that support for redistributive policies can be a hierarchy-enhancing strategy.