Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 18 > Issue 1

Disfavor or Favor? Assessing the Valence of White Americans' Racial Attitudes

Alexander Agadjanian, University of California, Berkeley, USA, agadjanian@berkeley.edu , John Carey, Dartmouth College, USA, john.m.carey@dartmouth.edu , Yusaku Horiuchi, Dartmouth College, USA, yusaku.horiuchi@dartmouth.edu , Timothy J. Ryan, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, tjr@email.unc.edu
Suggested Citation
Alexander Agadjanian, John Carey, Yusaku Horiuchi and Timothy J. Ryan (2023), "Disfavor or Favor? Assessing the Valence of White Americans' Racial Attitudes", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 18: No. 1, pp 75-103. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00021119

Publication Date: 01 Feb 2023
© 2023 A. Agadjanian et al.
Political psychology,  Representation,  Public opinion,  Electoral behavior,  Voting behavior
Racial attitudesdiscriminationprejudiceAmerican politicsconjoint analysis


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In this article:
Favoring Versus Disfavoring 
The Racial Resentment Scale 
Research Design 


When individuals' racial attitudes are associated with their judgments related to race — for example, when people with more negative attitudes toward Blacks are less likely to vote for a Black political candidate — existing studies routinely interpret it as evidence of prejudice against minorities. But theoretically, such associations can represent favoring minorities, disfavoring them, or a combination of both. We provide a conceptual framework to distinguish patterns of favoring and disfavoring against a standard of racial indifference, and test it with a preregistered conjoint experiment. In our results, one widely used measure — the Racial Resentment Scale — captures favoring of Blacks substantially more than disfavoring. This finding calls for greater care in characterizing white Americans' racial attitudes and illustrates ways to improve future research designs. We also describe several extensions that integrate the distinction between favoring and disfavoring into the broader study of racial attitudes.