Placing racial stereotypes in context: Social desirability and the politics of racial hostility

Christopher R. Weber, Howard Lavine, Leonie Huddy, Christopher M. Federico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Past research indicates that diversity at the level of larger geographic units (e.g., counties) is linked to white racial hostility. However, research has not addressed whether diverse local contexts may strengthen or weaken the relationship between racial stereotypes and policy attitudes. In a statewide opinion survey, we find that black-white racial diversity at the zip-code level strengthens the connection between racial stereotypes and race-related policy attitudes among whites. Moreover, this effect is most pronounced among low self-monitors, individuals who are relatively immune to the effects of egalitarian social norms likely to develop within a racially diverse local area. We find that this racializing effect is most evident for stereotypes (e.g., African Americans are "violent") that are "relevant" to a given policy (e.g., capital punishment). Our findings lend nuance to research on the political effects of racial attitudes and confirm the racializing political effects of diverse residential settings on white Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-78
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


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