Axt and collaborators
look at a very large sample (N > 200,000) of people of varying race, religion, and age and find, that after ranking their own race, religion, or age most favorably, people rank remaining categories in the same hierarchy, suggesting that rules of social evaluation are pervasively embedded in culture and mind. The subjects in the study were American citizens who submitted data to Harvard's Project Implicit
. Their abstract:
The social world is stratified. Social hierarchies are known but often disavowed as anachronisms or unjust. Nonetheless, hierarchies may persist in social memory. In three studies (total N > 200,000), we found evidence of social hierarchies in implicit evaluation by race, religion, and age. Participants implicitly evaluated their own racial group most positively and the remaining racial groups in accordance with the following hierarchy: Whites > Asians > Blacks > Hispanics. Similarly, participants implicitly evaluated their own religion most positively and the remaining religions in accordance with the following hierarchy: Christianity > Judaism > Hinduism or Buddhism > Islam. In a final study, participants of all ages implicitly evaluated age groups following this rule: children > young adults > middle-age adults > older adults. These results suggest that the rules of social evaluation are pervasively embedded in culture and mind.
The authors comment on the noteworthy finding that Black people generally received more positive implicit evaluations than Hispanic people.
Past research has indicated that Blacks occupy the lowest rung of the racial status hierarchy. Recent work suggests that Hispanics may in fact occupy a position of lower status in the United States. For example, Hispanic men and women have lower weekly earnings than their White, Asian, and Black counterparts (U.S. Department of Labor, 2013). Our Study now reveals that Hispanics are evaluated less positively on average than Blacks, at least implicitly.
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