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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Mar;90(3):453-67.

Free at last? Social dominance, loss aversion, and White and Black Americans' differing assessments of racial progress.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8205, USA.


White Americans tend to believe that there has been greater progress toward racial equality than do Black Americans. The authors explain this difference by combining insights from prospect theory and social dominance theory. According to prospect theory, changes seem greater when framed as losses rather than gains. Social dominance theory predicts that White Americans tend to view increases in equality as losses, whereas Black Americans view them as gains. In Studies 1 and 2, the authors experimentally tested whether groups judge the same change differently depending on whether it represents a loss or gain. In Studies 3-6, the authors used experimental methods to test whether White participants who frame equality-promoting changes as losses perceive greater progress toward racial equality. The authors discuss theoretical and political implications for progress toward a just society.

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