Monday, May 11, 2009

The "I Voted for Obama" Effect

New Hampshire Public Radio's "Word of Mouth" recently reported on the research of a doctoral student in the department of Psychology at Stanford University:

"See if this scenario sounds familiar. You’re sitting around with a bunch of friends – generally white people – and someone says something that sounds racist, or at least racially insensitive. There’s an awkward pause and then the offending party comes back with a variation on “I have a lot of black friends who would make that joke.” It kind of makes you cringe. Now that America has elected its first black president, research suggests that scenarios like this may be happening more frequently."

Here's an abstract of the actual article, "Endorsing Obama licenses favoring Whites" by Daniel A. Effron, Jessica S. Cameron and Benoît Monin:

Three studies tested whether the opportunity to endorse Barack Obama made individuals subsequently more likely to favor Whites over Blacks.
  • In Study 1, participants were more willing to describe a job as better suited for Whites than for Blacks after expressing support for Obama.

  • Study 2 replicated this effect and ruled out alternative explanations: participants favored Whites for the job after endorsing Obama, but not after endorsing a White Democrat, nor after seeing Obama’s photo without having an opportunity to endorse him.

  • Study 3 demonstrated that racial attitudes moderated this effect: endorsing Obama increased the amount of money allocated to an organization serving Whites at the expense of an organization serving Blacks only for participants high in a measure of racial prejudice.

These three studies suggest that expressing support for Obama grants people moral credentials, thus reducing their concern with appearing prejudiced.

Journal of Experimental Social PsychologyVolume 45, Issue 3, May 2009, Pages 590-593.

Remember, Zora said it first ...


Elegance said...

That's interesting. I think that we are going to experience more and more things like this. I was having an online arugment just yesterday with someone who thought that in the future people somehow won't be as sensitive to racial comments and that we should stop letting ourselves be insulted. He saw the future as a time when no one will be offended by racism. He used the excuse that after Obama none racism really doesn't matter. Good grief.

MilesEllison said...

The new "post racial" dialog is just an excuse for people to be racists. Instead of telling people to stop being offended by racist comments, how about refraining from them? That's never the solution, apparently.