Aarti S. Ivanic of the University of San Diego's School of Business Administration, and Jennifer R. Overbeck and Joseph C. Nunes of the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, said sometimes ill-treatment can make African-American consumers voluntarily pay more for goods and services than they would normally.
In an experiment with more than 500 participants, the researchers found that, as with Caucasians surveyed, when African-Americans were treated well, they did not indicate a willingness to pay more for goods or services even when race was made an issue.
When African-American subjects were treated poorly, but race was not raised, they paid less, but when race was explicitly activated -- subjects were made aware of the stereotypes affiliated with their race -- most African-Americans indicated a willingness to pay more for products than either Caucasian participants or other African-Americans for whom race was not raised.
The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.
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