Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

A Test of Dovidio and Gaertner's Integrated Model of Racism

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

A Test of Dovidio and Gaertner's Integrated Model of Racism

Article excerpt

Politically liberal and conservative White Americans were asked to evaluate a legal case in which a police officer was acquitted of assault charges against a motorist in state court but then retried in federal court. When the initiator of the assault was unspecified, liberals perceived a violation of double jeopardy significantly more for a Black officer-White motorist pair than vice versa. When the officer was identified as the initiator, however, double jeopardy ratings decreased significantly only for the Black officer. These results support the hypothesis that liberals, as aversive racists, will often discriminate in favor of Blacks except when discrimination against Blacks can be justified as non-racist. Unexpectedly, conservatives showed no indication of racial bias under any of the conditions.


Contemporary theories of racism propose that race-based prejudice in North America has not decreased as much in recent years as some surveys would seem to indicate (see Dovidio & Gaertner, 1998, 2005). Instead, the expressions of racism are simply less overt than they used to be. The theories of modern racism (McConahay, 1986) and symbolic racism (Sears, 1998; Sears & Henry, 2003) both posit that due to changing social norms against direct and overt expressions of racism many White Americans beginning in the 1960s have tended to express their racism in indirect, disguised, or symbolic ways. For example, such individuals might argue that they oppose social policies like affirmative action not because they are prejudiced as individuals but because it is against a proper interpretation of Civil Rights laws to use race as a factor in decisions such as hiring and university admissions. By taking such a position, modern-symbolic racists can continue to maintain or at least project a non-prejudiced self-image despite possessing negative, explicit, race-based beliefs and attitudes.

The theory of aversive racism (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1998, 2005) also proposes subtle, indirect expressions of prejudice by White Americans. However, aversive racists, unlike modern-symbolic racists, are hypothesized to have internalized some genuine egalitarian attitudes like fairness and equality and also to possess a sincere, non-prejudiced self-image. Yet, Dovidio and Gaertner still categorize such individuals as racist because research indicates that they have non-conscious negative, race-based feelings that sometimes bubble to the surface as prejudice (e.g., Dovidio, Evans, & Tyler, 1986; Dovidio & Gaertner, 1991; Son Hing, Chung-Yan, Grunfeld, Robichaud, & Zanna, 2005; Son Hing, Li, & Zanna, 2002). Thus, a non-conscious emotional conflict is hypothesized to exist in these individuals due to their need to maintain a genuinely non-prejudiced self-image while at the same time they experience involuntary, negative, race-based feelings. The label aversive racism describes this unpleasant internal conflict.

Dovidio and Gaertner's (1998, 2005) Integrated Model of Racism

Dovidio and Gaertner's (1998, 2005) integrated model suggests that the modern, symbolic, and aversive racism models all have validity but that they apply basically to different types of people. Specifically, the model links modern-symbolic racism to political conservatives and aversive racism to political liberals. The reasoning is that North American conservatives as a group still maintain many prejudiced beliefs and attitudes and have only learned that it is improper to express such beliefs in most contemporary public settings. North American liberals, in contrast, while strongly opposed to racism in both their public behaviors and private beliefs, still maintain negative but largely unconscious feelings/beliefs based on race.

The integrated model sometimes predicts different reactions from conservatives and liberals in specific inter-racial settings. For example, White North American conservatives should show bias against Blacks relative to Whites anytime they are not aware that their race-related behavior is under surveillance (e. …

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