Social Justice and Social Order: Moral Intuitions and Endorsements of Antiblack and Antiwhite Stereotypes

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Few topics are as heavily studied as Americans’ beliefs about racial disparities. Most of this research examines white people’s endorsements of stereotypes that blame black people for their unequal position in society. Research in the racial resentment and symbolic racism traditions is perhaps the best-known example of this approach. This research, however, is incomplete and is becoming more so as contemporary U.S. discourse expands to incorporate systemic racism as a fundamental cause of racial disparities. Within this discourse, negative stereotypes of whites—as racially insensitive, biased, and complicit in maintaining systemic racism—are increasingly common. This raises the question, Why do some Americans attempt to make sense of racial disparities by endorsing antiblack stereotypes while others do so by endorsing antiwhite stereotypes? Building on recent work by Silver and colleagues, the authors examine a novel explanation: the strength of people’s moral intuitions regarding social justice and social order. Using a YouGov sample of 1,125 U.S. adults, the authors find that social justice intuitions decrease antiblack stereotypes but increase antiwhite stereotypes, whereas social order intuitions do the opposite. These results suggest that future studies of Americans’ beliefs about racial disparities would benefit from measuring antiblack and antiwhite stereotypes and from measuring people’s social justice and social order intuitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences

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