by WorldTribune Staff, November 29, 2018
White liberals “patronize” minorities while white conservatives use the same vocabulary no matter who they are speaking to, a study by researchers from Yale and Princeton found.
“White liberals self-present less competence to minorities than to other whites – that is, they patronize minorities stereotyped as lower status and less competent,” according to the study.
The study, which will be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, examined speeches over the past 25 years by Republican and Democratic presidential candidates to mostly white and mostly minority audiences.
“The team found that Democratic candidates used fewer competence-related words in speeches delivered to mostly minority audiences than they did in speeches delivered to mostly white audiences,” Yale said in a press release. “The difference wasn’t statistically significant in speeches by Republican candidates.”
Cydney Dupree, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, said she was surprised by the results of the research, which sought to gauge how “well-intentioned whites” interact with minorities.
“It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect,” Dupree said. “Even if it’s ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.”
White Democratic presidential candidates and self-identified liberals played down their own intelligence when speaking to minorities while there were no significant differences in how white conservatives, including Republican presidential candidates, spoke to white versus minority audiences, the study found.
The researchers also set up an experiment in which white liberals were asked to respond to hypothetical individuals named “Emily” and “Lakisha.”
“Liberal individuals were less likely to use words that would make them appear highly competent when the person they were addressing was presumed to be black rather than white,” said the press release. “No significant differences were seen in the word selection of conservatives based on the presumed race of their partner.”
Dupree said her “hope is that this work will help include well-intentioned people who see themselves as allies but who may be unwittingly contributing to group divides. There is a broader need to include them in the conversation.”