Social devaluation of African Americans and race-related conspiracy theories

James Davis, Geoffrey Wetherell, Pj Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

African Americans in the United States endorse conspiracy theories at greater rates than Whites. The extant literature explains this pattern in terms of a rational motivation to blame the social system for prejudice and discrimination. However, little research distinguishes between race-relevant conspiracy theories against African Americans and general conspiracy theories. We propose that African Americans may seek out race-relevant conspiracy theories in particular because they satisfy a search for meaning that is brought about by chronic social devaluation. We present two studies that examine this social devaluation hypothesis. In Study 1 African Americans endorsed race-relevant conspiracy theories, even when controlling for perceptions of discrimination, an aspect of system blame. Study 2 employed an experimental affirmation of social value that significantly reduced African Americans' endorsement of race-relevant conspiracy theories consistent with the social devaluation hypothesis. These data indicate that there may be psychologically adaptive features of race-relevant conspiracy theory endorsement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

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African Americans
Social Values
Motivation
Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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Social devaluation of African Americans and race-related conspiracy theories. / Davis, James; Wetherell, Geoffrey; Henry, Pj.

In: European Journal of Social Psychology, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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