A new study published Thursday in the journal Science suggests many people unconsciously harbor racist attitudes, even though they see themselves as tolerant and egalitarian.
“This study, and a lot of research in social psychology, suggests that there are still really a lot of negative associations with blacks,” said Kerry Kawakami, associate professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, Ontario, and lead author of the study. “People are willing to tolerate racism and not stand up against it.”
The authors divided 120 non-black participants into the roles of “experiencers” and “forecasters.” The “experiencers” were placed in a room with a white person and a black person, who played out pre-arranged scenarios for the experiment. The scenarios began when the black role-player bumped the white role-player’s knee when leaving the room.
In the first scenario, the white person did not comment afterwards. In the “moderate” case, the white person said, “Typical, I hate it when black people do that,” after the black person left the room. In the “extreme” case, the white person remarked, “Clumsy n****r.”
The “forecasters,” meanwhile, predicted how they would feel in these situations.
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