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Black and Latinx conservatives upshift competence relative to liberals in mostly white settings

Abstract

Racial minorities vary in their sociopolitical views, as figures such as Barack Obama and Ted Cruz often demonstrate. Here, I examine the implications for interracial behaviour, proposing that Black and Latinx conservatives—specifically, those who are more supportive of hierarchy—upshift competence relative to liberals in mostly white settings, distancing themselves from stereotypes. Analysing 250,000 Congressional remarks and 1 million tweets revealed that Black and Latinx conservatives (determined by voting behaviour) referenced high power and ability more than liberals. No such pattern emerged for white politicians. A meta-analysis of four experiments further revealed that Black conservatives (determined by social dominance orientation) referenced high status more than liberals when responding to a white (but not Black) partner. This was robust to controls and unique to hierarchy-based conservatism. Finally, analysing 18,000 editorials suggested the following implications: the more minority conservatives referenced power in Congress, the more journalists referenced power in editorials about them. The findings highlight the diverse ideology of racial minorities, as well as the behavioural implications.

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Fig. 1: Power references in Congressional speech as a function of politician ideology and politician race/ethnicity.
Fig. 2: Ability references in Congressional tweets as a function of politician ideology and politician race/ethnicity.
Fig. 3: Indirect effects of politician ideology predicting power references in editorials through power references in Congressional speech for Black and Latinx or white politicians.

Data availability

All data supporting the findings in this manuscript are available at the Open Science Foundation (https://osf.io/cwnj8/).

Code availability

All code for analyses supporting the findings in this manuscript are available at the Open Science Foundation (https://osf.io/6cg2j/).

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Acknowledgements

I thank F. Ghayebi and T. Demeke, who provided assistance with data collection; and S. Fiske, M. Kraus and members of the Contending with Social Inequality laboratory for their feedback on early versions of this paper. The author received no specific funding for this work.

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C.H.D. devised the study concept, designed the experiments, collected and analysed the data, and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Cydney H. Dupree.

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Peer review information Nature Human Behaviour thanks Ivy Onyeador, Eyal Sagi and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.

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Dupree, C.H. Black and Latinx conservatives upshift competence relative to liberals in mostly white settings. Nat Hum Behav (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01167-9

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