Racial attitudes will affect election

Aug. 25, 2012 at 2:08 AM
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ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Racial attitudes may be a big factor in the U.S. election, particularly since a so-called implicit bias exists among many white voters, researchers say.

Lead researcher Anthony G. Greenwald and colleagues conducted a survey of 15,000 U.S. voters from January to April, which asked respondents about their political beliefs, how "warmly" they felt toward black and white people, and which presidential contender they preferred.

The survey was done while the Republican hopefuls included Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

The research team measured unconscious racial attitudes using the Implicit Association Test, which Greenwald developed more than a decade ago to measure thoughts and biases that people don't realize they have. The Implicit Association Test results showed a pattern labeled "automatic white preference" among a majority of eligible white voters.

The finding that some candidates are more attractive to voters with pro-white racial attitudes does not mean the candidates are racist, Greenwald emphasized.

Previous research has shown both blacks and whites show explicit preferences for their own race, Greenwald said, but when it comes to implicit, or unconscious, preferences, blacks tend not to prefer one race over another, whereas close to 70 percent of white Americans show an implicit racial bias.

The research was presented at the 120th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Orlando, Fla.

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