Cultural attributions for racial inequality

How do people explain persistent inequality between whites and blacks? Research has focused on two dimensions of explanation, or attribution: internal (regarding shortcomings in black motivation and capability); and external (regarding the socioeconomic context). We argue that a third type of attribution – cultural – augments internal attributions, making them more compelling. A survey-based experiment with a white sample showed that internal attributions elicited greater agreement when framed in cultural terms – that is, when black character and behavior were linked to a distinct black culture. High knowledge participants responded more strongly to framing than low knowledge participants. Culturally framed internal attributions predicted issue attitudes more powerfully than traditional internal attributions. The results indicate that we should change how we conceptualize and measure public beliefs about racial inequality.

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License CC BY-NC-ND
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 110 - American