Amy R. Krosch and David M. Amodio research suggests economic scarcity alters the perception of race. I took a look at the abstract posted on the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States website; "Racial disparities on socioeconomic indices expand dramatically during economic recession. Although prior explanations for this phenomenon have focused on institutional causes, our research reveals that perceived scarcity influences people’s visual representations of race in a way that may promote discrimination. Across four studies, scarce conditions led perceivers to view Black people as “darker” and “more stereotypically Black” in appearance, relative to control conditions, and this shift in perception under scarcity was sufficient to elicit reduced resource allocations to African American recipients. These findings introduce a “motivated perception” account for the proliferation of racial and ethnic discrimination during times of economic duress."
Maya Rhodan at "Time" picked up this story and wrote;
"People perceive race differently during an economic downturn, a recent study suggests, and become subconsciously more prejudiced against dark-skinned people when times are tight.
Researchers at New York University discovered that people with lighter skin were more likely to perceive Afrocentric features as more pronounced or “darker” during an economic downturn.
That kind of perception is likely to increase discrimination against people of color, the researchers found.
“Our research reveals that perceived scarcity influences people’s visual representations of race in a way that may promote discrimination,” the authors note, in an upcoming issue of theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America journal.
In a series of four studies, participants were asked to identify whether select images depicted black people or white people, while researchers manipulated select economic conditions.
In one study, participants were first asked to express agreement or disagreement with “zero-sum” beliefs like “When blacks make economic gains, whites lose out economically,” and then asked to identify the race of the people featured in 110 images—people whose skin color varied greatly.
The study’s results showed that those with stronger “zero sum” beliefs were more likely to consider the images of mixed-face subjects as “blacker” than they actually were.
New York University researchers Amy Krosch, a doctoral student, and psychology professor David Amodio found similar results when participants were asked to identify whether someone was black or white after being shown words related to scarcity like “limited” and “resource.”
The remaining studies threw economics into the mix—asking subjects how they would divide $15 between people represented by two images— and not only were images of darker-skinned people deemed “blacker” than they actually were relative to the average skin color, they were allocated fewer funds.
Economic scarcity, the researchers note, has been proven to influence how people treat those outside of their own social groups in previous studies. But with the economy still recovering from the detrimental recession of 2008-9—which had a more adverse effect on blacks than whites—the findings suggest that institutional inequality may not be the only culprit, but also individual prejudices toward racial minorities."
When I read about discrimination I think about my own experiences with that subject, both at work and socially. Reading and watching the video above I think about "friends", acquaintances, and co-workers who say discriminating remarks, after reading this I can relate those prejudiced remarks with the financial struggles of the people who had those comments. Discrimination in the work place is a highly charged subject, probably because it has a financial impact on the discriminator. Have you ever seen the posters in the lunch area that tell you what and what not to do? If not here is a link. Or if you really want to be pro-active ask your HR department for discrimination education, you will be surprised on what you should not be saying.