Which group to credit (and blame)? Whites make attributions about White-minority biracials’ successes and failures based on their own (anti-)egalitarianism and ethnic identification

Posted on 2018-09-19 - 12:00

Individuals’ perceptions of biracials can vary based on the motives of the perceiver. Here, we examine how two factors—perceivers’ group-level identification motives and their system-level beliefs about the desirability of hierarchy (i.e., social dominance orientation)—predict the degree to which they attribute a biracial target’s successes or failures to that target’s White versus minority background. Across three studies examining different contexts, more anti-egalitarian White participants and more highly identified White participants rated a half-White, half-minority target as being shaped more by his minority (vs. White) background when he was disreputable (vs. reputable)—patterns broadly consistent with prior theorizing on the motivations to maintain social stratification and protect ingroup standing, respectively. In direct contrast, however, egalitarian White participants and White participants low on ethnic identification credited a target’s outgroup minority background when he was reputable (vs. disreputable), consistent with a desire to promote social equality and forgoing the opportunity to “bask in reflected glory” on behalf of the ingroup. Our results extend extant theorizing by underlining the benefits of jointly considering both group- and system-level motives when analyzing perceptions and attributions of individuals and groups, and by shedding new light on the understudied psychology of social egalitarians.


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