Study of the Day: Blacks Confront Racists, Asians Prefer Quiet Revenge

More

New research from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin shows how race and culture shape our responses to racial insults.

Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock

PROBLEM: Previous studies have demonstrated variations in the way people of distinct cultures communicate and manage conflict. Do their reactions to racial slurs differ as well?

METHODOLOGY: Researchers Elizabeth Lee and José Soto asked Asian and black American women to talk to another person online using an instant messenger. The conversation partner was a research assistant trained to make either a racist comment, such as "Dating [blacks/Asians] is for tools who let [blacks/Asians] control them" or a rude comment unrelated to race. The subjects then took part in a supposedly unrelated taste test, for which they chose a jellybean for their conversation partner. The jellybean flavors available ranged from delicious (e.g. cherry, lemon) to "bad-tasting" (e.g. earwax, dirt).

RESULTS: The African-American participants were more likely to directly respond to their racist partners than the Asian-American women, who preferred to retaliate in secret by not giving the good jellybeans.

CONCLUSION: Our racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds shape how we react to racism. The researchers write, "Our findings are consistent with black women's cultural heritage, which celebrates the past accomplishments of other black confronters of discrimination, as well as Asian women's heritage, which advises finding expedient resolutions in the name of peaceful relations."

SOURCE: The full study, "Bitter Reproach or Sweet Revenge: Cultural Differences in Response to Racism," (PDF) is published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do Men Assume They're So Great?

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of this month's Atlantic cover story, sit down with Hanna Rosin to discuss the power of confidence and how self doubt holds women back. 


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In