Study Shows ‘Black’ Label More Negative Than ‘African American’ to Whites


*According to new research, different images and perceptions are conjured up in the minds of white folk when a person is identified as ‘Black’ versus ‘African American.’

White Americans are fine with African Americans, but Blacks are a completely different story.

The new study appeared in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, where Emory University’s Erika Hall led a team of researchers who argue that “the racial label ‘black’ evokes a mental representation of a person with lower socioeconomic status than the racial label ‘African-American.’”

The researchers write,

“The content embedded in the black stereotype is generally more negative, and less warm and competent, than that in the African-American stereotype. These different associations carry consequences for how whites perceive Americans of African descent who are labeled with either term.”

A series of experiments  brought Hall and her team to these conclusions.  They tested 106 white Americans in the first round of tests by giving them a list of 75 traits  that included terms like  “athletic,” “aggressive,” and “bold.” The participants were asked to choose the 10 they felt were most descriptive of a specific group of people they were randomly assigned to evaluate. One-quarter of them selected the best traits for blacks, while others did the same for Africans-Americans, whites, and Caucasians.

“The stereotype content for blacks was significantly more negative than for African-Americans,” the researchers write. “In contrast, the stereotype content for African-Americans did not significantly differ in perceived negativity from that of whites.”

In another experiment, 90 white participants “expressed more negative emotions” towards a 29-year-old crime suspect from Chicago when he was ID’d as Black versus African American.

The results suggest “the label black elicits more negative emotions than the label African-American,” the researchers write, “but African-American does not elicit positive emotion.”

Read more of their findings at Pacific Standard.

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