Feb 2021

Why we can’t talk openly about race: The impact of race and partisanship on respondents’ perceptions of intergroup conversations

Appiah, O., Eveland, W.P., Bullock, O.M., & Coduto, K.D.

Group Processes & Interpersonal Dynamics

Abstract

Conversations about race-specific issues with interracial conversation partners can be important to combat prejudice and foster mutual understanding. Using a national U.S. sample of 201 Black Democrats, 199 Black Republicans, 200 White Democrats, and 200 White Republicans, this study examined the role that race and partisanship play in individuals’ desire to have political discussions about race-specific topics with racial outgroups. Findings indicate that Blacks in general expected more negative outcomes of race talk with racial outgroups, and Republicans were more likely to attempt to avoid interracial conversations about race. However, these findings were qualified by an interaction between race and partisanship such that White Democrats anticipated fewer negative outcomes from cross-race conversations about race than all other subgroups, and Black Democrats expected more negative outcomes than all other subgroups. Black and White Republicans did not differ from one another and fell roughly between the two Democratic subgroups. Nonetheless, it was White Republicans who were most likely to want to avoid race-specific conversations with cross-race discussion partners, rating significantly more avoidant than Black Republicans and White Democrats, but not Black Democrats.

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