Racial stereotypes and whites' political views of blacks in the context of welfare and crime

Mark Peffley, Jon Hurwitz, Paul M. Sniderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

273 Scopus citations


Theory: Social psychological theories of social stereotyping are used to generate a series of predictions about how and when whites' stereotypes of African-Americans are likely to bias their evaluations of blacks in the areas of welfare and crime. Hypotheses: The degree to which whites endorse negative stereotypes of blacks not only tends to bias their judgments of black (versus white) welfare recipients and criminal suspects, but also affects the way they respond to counter-stereotypical information about the target. Methods: Regression analysis and analysis of variance of data from a series of survey experiments with 1,841 whites in which the race and other attributes of welfare mothers, welfare recipients, and drug suspects were manipulated. Results: Whites holding negative stereotypes are substantially more likely to judge blacks more harshly than similarly described whites in the areas of welfare and crime policy. We also find that even whites with strongly negative perceptions of blacks respond quite favorably to them when confronted with individuating information that clearly contradicts their stereotype. By way of contrast, respondents who reject negative stereotypes of African-Americans display a remarkable consistency in their responses across both the race and the individuating information of the target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-60
Number of pages31
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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