The Interaction of Race and Social Status in Determining Discrimination
O'Brien, Julia Diane
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This research examines the interaction of race and social status in determining stereotypes and discrimination. Through six experiments, I demonstrate that because High Status Blacks are stereotyped positively and similarly to High Status Whites in domains related to economic resources (Pilot Study), they are perceived as competitors when economic resources are scarce. As such, they face increased discrimination (relative to Low Status Blacks) in economic-resource relevant domains (Study 1b), particularly when these resources are scarce (Study 1a). I demonstrate that this discrimination is driven by Zero-Sum Beliefs about the social status hierarchy and competition for resources (Study 2 and Study 3b). I also present novel evidence of the ironic effect of having strong Zero-Sum Beliefs for those who are internally motivated to control prejudice (IMS; Plant & Devine, 1998; Study 3b). I discuss these findings in the context of the Instrumental Model of Group Conflict (Esses, Jackson, and Armstrong, 1998) and research on racial prejudice and discrimination, and also apply these findings to broader issues regarding the social mobility of Black Americans.