Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Self-Perception of Poor White Americans

The latest from the social science journals:
Poor White Americans report feeling “worse off” than poor Black Americans despite the persistent negative effects of racism on Black Americans. Additionally, some health issues are rising among White but not Black Americans. Across two representative samples, we test whether White = wealthy stereotypes lead White Americans to feel relatively worse off than their racial group and whether these perceptions have health consequences. Across both samples, White Americans perceived their own status to be significantly lower than the status of the majority of White Americans. In contrast, Black Americans perceived their own status to be significantly higher than the majority of Black Americans. Critically, status comparisons between the self and one’s racial group predicted the experience of fewer positive emotions among White, but not Black, Americans, which mediated reduced mental and physical health. We conclude that race/class stereotypes may shape how poverty subjectively feels.
I can't read the whole article, but I wonder about the role of shame in this. White Americans seem to feel more ashamed about losing a job or other setbacks then black or Hispanic Americans, so they are more likely for example to stop going to church after losing a job or getting divorced. This is usually interpreted as showing that white Americans believe more in the ideology of "standing on your own feet" etc., while minority Americans are more likely to believe that much of what happens is beyond your control. 

No comments: