Tolerance of racism: A new construct that predicts failure to recognize and confront racism

Jennifer S. Hunt, Abigail M. Folberg, Carey S. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Often people who may not personally express racist beliefs nevertheless have a passive orientation to racism and tolerate racist statements and acts by others. We examine individual differences in willingness to accept racist views or acts in others, labelled tolerance of racism (TOR), in four online survey studies (total N = 2,008). We demonstrate that TOR is distinct from, although correlated with, established forms of bias, such as symbolic and modern racism and social dominance orientation, which measure bias toward marginalized groups rather than tolerance of people who express racism (typically members of dominant groups). Across studies, results indicate that Whites exhibited higher TOR than did people of color, although Black, Latinx, and other people of color still exhibit considerable TOR. Further, people high in TOR minimized the severity of racist acts and were less likely to confront them. They also expressed less concern about current events reflecting racial discrimination and hate and less support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which challenges societal racism. Thus, TOR reflects a passive orientation to racism that influences interpersonal behavior as well as views of macro-level discrimination, leading to the perpetuation of racial inequality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-571
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • interpersonal confrontation
  • prejudice
  • racism
  • scale development
  • tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Tolerance of racism: A new construct that predicts failure to recognize and confront racism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this