Psychology Magazine

Structural Whitening

By Deric Bownds @DericBownds
I pass on this summary by Rai of a study by Anicich et al. in J. Exp. Soc. Psychol:
As the US population becomes more racially diverse, it is unclear how ethnic white populations will respond to these demographic changes. Anicich et al. found experimentally that when white Americans were given the opportunity to populate fictional cities, they imposed greater racial segregation in areas that they frequented more often, such as work or school, because they feel greater anxiety around non-whites. In a follow-up study, the authors examined policies at tennis and golf clubs across the United States, and found that in areas with higher racial diversity, clubs engaged in more exclusionary behavior, such as enacting strict dress codes. These findings suggest that as racial diversity increases, white Americans may respond by trying to structure their environment in more segregated ways.
And here is the abstract of the article:
The current research explores how local racial diversity affects Whites' efforts to structure their local communities to avoid incidental intergroup contact. In two experimental studies (N = 509; Studies 1a-b), we consider Whites' choices to structure a fictional, diverse city and find that Whites choose greater racial segregation around more (vs. less) self-relevant landmarks (e.g., their workplace and children's school). Specifically, the more time they expect to spend at a landmark, the more they concentrate other Whites around that landmark, thereby reducing opportunities for incidental intergroup contact. Whites also structure environments to reduce incidental intergroup contact by instituting organizational policies that disproportionately exclude non-Whites: Two large-scale archival studies (Studies 2a-b) using data from every U.S. tennis (N = 15,023) and golf (N = 10,949) facility revealed that facilities in more racially diverse communities maintain more exclusionary barriers (e.g., guest policies, monetary fees, dress codes) that shield the patrons of these historically White institutions from incidental intergroup contact. In a final experiment (N = 307; Study 3), we find that Whites' anticipated intergroup anxiety is one driver of their choices to structure environments to reduce incidental intergroup contact in more (vs. less) racially diverse communities. Our results suggest that despite increasing racial diversity, White Americans structure local environments to fuel a self-perpetuating cycle of segregation.

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