90 Miles From Tyranny : STUDY: White liberals’ sympathy for poor whites DECREASES after white privilege lessons, sympathy for blacks stays same

Thursday, May 23, 2019

STUDY: White liberals’ sympathy for poor whites DECREASES after white privilege lessons, sympathy for blacks stays same

  • Professors and a scholar out of the University of Kentucky, Colgate University and New York University conducted a study on white privilege.
  • They found that white liberals who were educated about white privilege had less sympathy for poor whites and an unchanging sympathy for blacks.
A new study by three professors and one scholar reveals that when white social liberals learn about white privilege, it decreases the amount of sympathy they have for poor whites, with their sympathy for blacks stagnating.

Authored by researchers from the University of Kentucky, Colgate University and New York University, the study, “Complex intersections of race and class: Among social liberals, learning about White privilege reduces sympathy, increases blame, and decreases external attributions for White people struggling with poverty,” was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
“Social liberals showed significantly less sympathy for Kevin when he was described as white" Tweet This

“Why might lessons of White privilege exacerbate negative impressions of poor Whites?” the study asks. “One possibility is that perceivers implicitly play the ‘oppression Olympics’ — that is, they draw upon default hierarchies of groups in order to mentally rank who is worst off and prioritize one group over other groups.”

In their paper, the professors and scholar state that they “simply hope to provide data that illuminate what the consequences of [white privilege] lessons are.”

The academic paper was comprised of two studies. The first one tasked participants with reading a short reading on white privilege -- a control group did not receive the reading -- and the second one asked participants to rate the sympathy they felt toward “Kevin,” who is poor, on welfare, and has been to jail multiple times, but were “randomly assigned” to learn whether he was white or black.

Kevin’s race had a significant impact on how participants answered the question and showed that “social liberals showed significantly less sympathy for Kevin when he was described as white...as compared to black,” according to the professors and scholar.

“Across two highly powered studies, we find that learning about privilege based on race may sometimes lead to reduced sympathy for White people experiencing poverty,” the study says.

“As a result, social liberals who think about White privilege (vs. control) may become more likely to blame poor White people for their poverty.”

Cooley, a Colgate professor who co-authored the study, commented on the study to the Greater Good Magazine, a project of the University of California-Berkeley.

“What we found is that when liberals read about white privilege...it didn’t significantly change how they empathized with a poor black person—but it did significantly bump down their sympathy for a poor...

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