The following speakers that will be presenting at our Department Seminar Series.
Group Empathy Theory:
Explaining Racial and Ethnic Gaps in Reactions to Terrorism and Immigration Threats
To explain group differences in reactions to political threats, we develop Group Empathy Theory. The theory posits empathy felt by members of one group can boost support for another even when the groups are in direct competition for rights, security, and resources. We conduct three national survey experiments with a total of 2,420 participants in which we solely manipulate visual racial/ethnic cues in ambiguous vignettes depicting potential terrorism and immigration threats. Compared to Anglos, African Americans and Latinos exhibit substantially higher levels of group empathy and support for minority groups other than their own. In the experiments, Anglo respondents were far less likely to side with potentially threatening non-white targets compared to a white target. African Americans, on the other hand, were most likely to side with minority targets, support civil rights policies, and commit to political action on behalf of stigmatized groups. Surprisingly, perhaps, Latino reactions to variation in the racial/ethnic target of our experimental vignettes were somewhat muted. However, across all our tests, group empathy but not perceptions of threat or political trust mediated African American-Anglo and Latino-Anglo differences on policy preferences and political behavior.
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