Disguising Prejudice: Popular Rationales as Excuses for Intolerant Expression (with Ingar Haaland, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth)

  • Date: Nov 15, 2021
  • Time: 06:00 PM
  • Speaker: Leonardo Bursztyn, University of Chicago
  • Location: Zoom meeting, please contact Zita Green for Zoom link: green@coll.mpg.de.

We study how popular rationales enable public anti-minority actions. Rationales to oppose mi-
norities genuinely persuade some people, but they also serve as “excuses” that may reduce the
stigma associated with anti-minority expression. In a first experiment, people who donated to an
anti-immigrant organization are seen as less intolerant if they were first exposed to a study claiming
that immigrants disproportionately commit violent crimes. In additional experiments, participants
are more willing to publicly donate to an anti-immigrant organization and post anti-immigrant
content on social media when they can use popular rationales as an excuse. Our findings suggest
that prominent public figures can lower the cost of intolerant expression by popularizing rationales,
enabling public anti-minority behavior.

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