Nov 2021

How communicating about discrimination influences attributions of blame and condemnation

DeAndrea, D.C., & Bullock, O.M.

Human Communication Research

Abstract

Across two randomized experiments, we examine how communication about discriminatory acts can influence judgments of blame and condemnation. Specifically, we consider whether attributing discrimination to implicit or explicit bias affects how people evaluate online reports of discrimination. In Study 1 (Nā€‰=ā€‰947), we explore this question in the context of an online news environment, and in Study 2 (Nā€‰=ā€‰121) we replicate our results on a social media site (i.e., Twitter). Across both studies, we document how viewers respond differently to reports of discrimination due to variation in agent motives, the type of bias that purportedly caused the discriminatory behavior, and the extent to which agents are reported to have completed implicit bias training. We discuss our theoretical contribution to perspectives of blame attribution and the communication of bias as well as the practical implications of our findings.

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