Gender, race and prejudice

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-20 18:45Z by Steven

Gender, race and prejudice

Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, New York

Leigh Wilton

“As an experimental social psychologist, I’m interested in how people see each other and how that affects their interactions,” says Leigh Wilton, who joined Skidmore’s psychology faculty last year. Her work focuses on race and gender. “People have expectations about gender and race,” she says, “but what happens when they encounter challenges to those beliefs, such as people who have mixed-race or nontraditional gender identities? What are the consequences, in terms of interpersonal and group relations, of the assumptions we hold?”

The essentialist school of thought holds that these identities are mostly in-born and immutable, rather than socially constructed and learned. But as Wilton points out, there’s no support for a scientific concept of race, and she asks, “If people see racial traits as genetically hard-wired, what do they think when they meet people of mixed-race parentage?

For Wilton, it’s more than academic. With a Latina mother and white father, she grew up with a natural curiosity about what social identities really mean and also with a drive to test ways of improving social interactions across difference…

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On the color line: the social consequences of White/Black biracial self-categorization

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-09-21 20:08Z by Steven

On the color line: the social consequences of White/Black biracial self-categorization

Rutgers University, New Brunswick
October 2011
71 pages
DOI: 10.7282/T3V9874P

Leigh Solano Wilton

A thesis submitted to the Graduate School-New Brunswick Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science Graduate Program in Psychology

Black/White biracial individuals are marginal group members at the periphery of both Black (i.e., low status) and White (i.e., high status) groups. However, scant research has investigated the consequences of self-categorization for how multiracial people are perceived. The proposed research investigated the extent to which perceptions of White/Black biracial targets depend on their self-categorization (i.e., as Black or biracial). Drawing from social identity theory, I also examined whether perceivers’ race and racial identification moderated responses to biracial targets’ self-categorization, as well as the mechanisms that may account for differential responses to biracial targets (e.g., perceptions of loyalty) that guide perceiver’s evaluations of these targets. Consistent with expectations, Black perceivers saw the biracial target as higher in social status. However, only Black (and not White) perceivers positively evaluated the Black self-categorizing target as more competent than the biracial self-categorizing target. The hypothesis that perceivers higher in racial identification would show more favorability towards the Black self-categorizing target than the biracial self-categorizing target was not supported for either Black or White participants. Moreover, the predicted significant three-way interaction of racial identification with race and condition on disloyalty was not found. Thus, racial identification did not moderate these effects.

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Essentializing Ethnicity: Identification Constraint Reduces Diversity Interest

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-07-10 20:56Z by Steven

Essentializing Ethnicity: Identification Constraint Reduces Diversity Interest

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Available online: 2014-07-10
DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2014.07.001

Tiane L. Lee
University of Maryland, College Park

Leigh S. Wilton
Rutgers University, New Brunswick

Virginia S.Y. Kwan, Associate Professor of Psychology
Arizona State University


  • We primed essentialism with instruction to “Check One”, rather than “Check All”, ethnicities.
  • Minorities reduced diversity engagement, distancing from activities that express background.
  • Essentialist European-Americans showed less interest in intergroup friendship.
  • Interaction with chronic essentialist beliefs replicated in a non-race-related context.

The present research investigates the effects of a subtle essentialist cue: restricting individuals to identify with only one ethnicity. Although this constraint is mundane and commonly used in everyday life, it sends a message of essentialized group differences. Three studies illustrate the harmful impact of this essentialist cue on diversity. Studies 1a and 1b show that it decreases Asian-Americans’ desire to participate in ethnicity-related activities. Study 2 reveals that it reduces essentialist European-Americans’ desire for friendship with a minority target. Study 3 illustrates the mechanism through which an essentialist cue reduces intergroup contact, with perceivers’ chronic beliefs moderating this effect. Together, these findings demonstrate the powerful impact of the seemingly small act of how we ask people to identify with an ethnic group.

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Perceiving a Presidency in Black (and White): Four Years Later

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-19 20:50Z by Steven

Perceiving a Presidency in Black (and White): Four Years Later

Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
First published online: 2013-06-25
DOI: 10.1111/asap.12018

Sarah E. Gaither
Tufts University

Leigh S. Wilton
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Danielle M. Young
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

When Barack Obama became the “first Black President” of the United States in 2008, researchers examined how his election impacted Americans’ views of racial progress. When he was reelected in 2012, the minority status of the president had become less novel. In the present study, we investigated whether perceptions concerning racial progress varied: (1) before and after President Obama’s reelection; (2) by whether President Obama was labeled as biracial or Black; and (3) among White and Black individuals. We replicated past findings to demonstrate that after Obama’s reelection, White participants reported that our country had made racial progress and decreased their support for equality programs (e.g., affirmative action). Our results also revealed that labeling President Obama as either biracial or Black did not affect views of racial progress. Additionally, Black participants categorized President Obama as Black more than White participants, while White participants categorized President Obama as White more than Black participants. We discuss these results in terms of the impacts of racial beliefs that stem from exposure to a minority leader.

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The Stigma of Privilege: Racial Identity and Stigma Consciousness Among Biracial Individuals

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2013-02-22 04:53Z by Steven

The Stigma of Privilege: Racial Identity and Stigma Consciousness Among Biracial Individuals

Race and Social Problems
Volume 5, Issue 1 (March 2013)
pages 41-56
DOI: 10.1007/s12552-012-9083-5

Leigh S. Wilton
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Diana T. Sanchez, Associate Professor of Psychology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Julie A. Garcia, Associate Professor of Psychology
California Polytechnic State University

Racial identification is a complex and dynamic process for multiracial individuals, who as members of multiple racial groups have been shown to self-identify or be identified by others differently, depending on the social context. For biracial individuals who have white and minority ancestry, such identity shifting (e.g., from minority to white, or vice versa) may be a way to cope with the threats to their racial identity that can be signaled by the presence or absence of whites and/or minorities in their social environment. We examine whether stigma consciousness (Pinel in J Pers Soc Psychol 76(1):114–128, 1999; i.e., the chronic awareness of the stereotyping and prejudice that minorities face) interacts with the sociocultural context to predict social identity threat, belonging, and racial identification. Using experience sampling methodology, minority/white biracial individuals (27 Asian/white, 22 black/white, and 26 Latino/white) reported the racial composition of their environment, social identity threat for their component racial identities, overall feelings of belonging, and racial identification over a 1-week period. Results suggest that stigma consciousness predicts the extent to which biracial people identify with their white background and experience belonging in different racial contexts. We discuss racial identity shifting in response to context-based threats as a protective strategy for biracial people, and identity where participants’ sociocultural contexts and experiences with racial identity and threat differ as a result of their minority racial group or ascribed race.

Read the pre-publication proof here.

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