Perceptions of racial betrayal in a civil case context

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In 2009, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested when he was mistaken for a burglar outside his home. When he went to the media, claiming to be a

In 2009, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested when he was mistaken for a burglar outside his home. When he went to the media, claiming to be a victim of racism, he faced backlash from other African Americans. The current research attempts to explain why he faced this backlash in terms of racial ingroup betrayal. Participants read a vignette that was similar to the Gates Jr. case, with SES and Job Stereotypicality being modified to be stereotypical or counter-stereotypical to one’s race. Data analyses revealed support for my hypotheses of Whites participants. There was a significant interaction, such that White participants felt more betrayed by low (versus high) SES ingroup members who achieved their financial means through counter-stereotypical careers, which in turn led to reduced ingroup protectiveness for the ingroup member (i.e., a shorter suspension for the policeman who mistreated the ingroup member). In contrast, they did not feel more betrayed by low (versus high) SES ingroup members when they had stereotypical jobs. Minority participants, (i.e., African-American and Hispanic participants) felt more betrayed by an ingroup member who had a stereotypical career compared to a counter-stereotypical career. In sum, I found that among White participants only, they feel betrayed when an ingroup member violates their expectations for what they believe an ingroup member should be in terms of SES and career choice, which might lead them to be less protective when an ingroup member is mistreated.