A new study shows that racism seems to originate from individuals perceiving Black Americans as a potential threat and not from dislike.
According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a study titled “Danger or Dislike: Distinguishing Threat from Negative Valence as Sources of Automatic Anti-Black Bias” uncovered that anti-Black bias among white Americans is influenced, in part, by seeing Black men as a threat.
In lab studies, when presented with options such as “shoot,” whites tend to make faster decisions to shoot armed targets and are slower not to hit unarmed Black targets — a finding that also applied to Black participants.
Recent tragedies in the news have underscored the deadly effects of anti-Black racism, especially in interactions with law enforcement. Studies show that police use force against Black people at a disproportionately higher rate than other racial groups.
The research findings supplement previous beliefs about racial bias, emphasizing the significance of grasping the nuances in how individuals unconsciously perceive various races in America.
“I suggested that many instances of anti-Black bias, like shooter bias, may be more strongly driven by a danger rather than negative association. That is, instead of dislike, the underlying problem might be [a] threat,” said study author David S. March. “So, I wanted to test if white Americans implicitly process Black individuals as a survival threat and/or in terms of negativity.”
Researchers performed five studies to examine the fundamental reasons for anti-Black bias. March said the studies reveal a consistent pattern indicating that white Americans instinctively connect Black men with the concept of threat.