Framing Inequity Safely: Whites' Motivated Perceptions of Racial Privilege

Framing Inequity Safely: Whites' Motivated Perceptions of Racial Privilege

By
Brian Lowery, Eric D. Knowles, Miguel M. Unzueta
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. September
2007, Vol. 33, Issue 9, Pages 1237-1250

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.