Pliable Prejudice: The Case of Welfare

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The conventional wisdom maintains that whites’ racial predispositions are exogenous to their views of welfare. Against this position, scattered studies report that prejudice moves in response to new information about policies and groups. Likewise, theories of mediated intergroup contact propose that when individuals encounter messages about racial outgroups, their levels of prejudice may wax or wane. In conjunction, these lines of work suggest that whites update their global views of blacks based on how they feel about people on welfare. The current article tests this “prejudice revision” hypothesis with data from “welfare mother” vignettes embedded on national surveys administered in 1991, 2014, and 2015 and ANES panel data from the 1990s. The results indicate that views of welfare recipients systematically affect racial stereotypes, racial resentment, individualistic explanations for racial inequality, and structural explanations for racial inequality. Prejudice, in short, is endogenous to welfare attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-976
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 19 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The 2014 YouGov survey was funded by a University of Minnesota Grant‐in‐Aid Award. The 2015 GfK survey was funded by a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation (award number 83‐15‐28). I thank Chris Federico, Eddie Hazel, Andy Karch, Howie Lavine, Joanne Miller, Michael Minta, Stephen Nicholson, Andrew Proctor, Hope Sandoval, and the reviewers and editors for their help in preparing this article. AJPS

Publisher Copyright:
©2021, Midwest Political Science Association.


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