Political polarization and far-right movements across the West are thought to be partly driven by beliefs that white people face discrimination in societies that supposedly favour non-white people. We compared perceptions of racial discrimination with reported discrimination experiences in large, US national samples to shed light on the veracity of such beliefs. Regarding experiences, we find that white people consistently experienced less discrimination than black people, and that declines in anti-black discrimination have not coincided with increases in anti-white discrimination. Regarding perceptions, respondents overall did not express zero-sum discrimination beliefs. Moreover, black respondents and Democrats perceived that black people face much more discrimination than white people, whereas white respondents and Republicans perceived a smaller discrimination gap between black and white people, relative to reported discrimination experiences. Overall, improvements for black people do not seem to coincide with disadvantages for white people, and discrimination perceptions differ from reported discrimination experiences. Implications for racial attitudes, political polarization and voting behaviour are discussed.
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All data are publicly accessible online. Data from Sample 1 can be found at https://electionstudies.org/. Data from Sample 2 can be found at http://www.gss.norc.org/Get-The-Data. Data from Sample 3 can be found at https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime. Data from Sample 4 can be found at http://midus.wisc.edu/. Names for variables used in the present investigation are listed as they appear in the datasets in the Supplementary Information.
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Earle, M., Hodson, G. Questioning white losses and anti-white discrimination in the United States. Nat Hum Behav (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-019-0777-1