Shteynberg, G., Leslie, L. M., Knight, A. P., & Mayer, D. M. (2011). But affirmative action hurts us! Race-related beliefs shape perceptions of White disadvantage and policy unfairness. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 115, 1-12.
Abstract. Drawing on social identity theory, we examine how Whites’ race-related beliefs drive their reactions to race-based Affirmative Action Policies (AAPs). Across laboratory and field settings, we find that Whites with relatively high modern racism (MR) or collective relative deprivation (CRD) beliefs perceive greater White disadvantage in organizations that have race-based AAPs, than in organizations that do not. Alternatively, race-based AAPs do not lead to perceptions of White disadvantage among Whites with relatively low MR and CRD beliefs. We also find that White disadvantage mediates the relationship between the combined effects of race-based AAPs, MR beliefs, and CRD beliefs and the perceived fairness of the organization’s selection and promotion policies. Our findings suggest that race-based AAPs do not necessarily lead to perceptions of White disadvantage, but are contingent upon the interpretive lens of Whites’ MR and CRD beliefs, and also offer practical insights for preventing negative reactions to race-based AAPs.