Trump supporters respond to pictures of black faces with anger and defensiveness: study
A new study shows that people who support President Donald Trump are angered and shift their thinking to more reactionary politics when confronted with a photo of a black man, reported Vox.com on Friday.
Researchers Matthew Luttig, Christopher Federico and Howard Lavine carried out a study about racial bias and political persuasion, the results of which will be published in the journal Research and Politics.
In the study, said Vox’s German Lopez, “the trio of researchers exposed respondents to images of either a white or black man. They found that when exposed to the image of a black man, white Trump supporters were less likely to back a federal mortgage aid program. Favorability toward Trump was a key measure for how strong this effect was.”
Individuals who voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were “relatively unmoved by racial cues.”
“The study is just the latest to show that racial attitudes are a powerful predictor for support for Trump — and the newest to suggest that such attitudes play a major role in Americans’ views toward public policy,” Lopez wrote. “Previous studies have found that racial resentment was a much stronger indicator of support for Trump than views about the economy. And other research has shown that priming people to think about race can make them more conservative on a host of issues.”
Or, as The Root’s Michael Harriot wrote, “Trump voters are very complex. They are conservatives who believe big government is getting out of hand. They want lower taxes for the middle class. They believe in comprehensive immigration reform. They want an economic policy that reflects the average… Nah, I’m just bullsh*tting. They just don’t like black people.”
Lopez said the study shows that Trump has “a powerful incentive to keep people thinking about race: If his most ardent supporters just need a slight racial cue to come around to his conservative policy views, then Trump simply has to bring up race to get his supporters fired up for him.”
Researchers spoke with 700 white voters about their support for housing assistance programs, but — in a twist — the materials they were shown contained “a subtle image of either a white or a black man.”
“They found that the image of a black man greatly impacted responses among Trump supporters. After they were exposed to the black racial cue, they were not only less supportive of housing assistance programs, but they also expressed higher levels of anger that some people receive government assistance and were more likely to say that individuals who receive assistance are to blame for their situation,” said Lopez.
Favorability toward Donald Trump was directly related to people’s reaction to the image of a black man. People who view Trump the least favorably were the most unfazed by racial cues, “They were less likely to oppose housing assistance, get angry at the program, or blame the recipients of such programs for their situation when exposed to the black racial cue compared to the white racial cue.”
The researchers concluded, “These findings indicate that responses to the racial cue varied as a function of feelings about Donald Trump — but not feelings about Hillary Clinton — during the 2016 presidential election.”