Framing inequity safely: Whites' motivated perceptions of racial privilege

Brian S. Lowery, Eric D. Knowles, Miguel M. Unzueta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Racial inequity was theorized to threaten Whites' self-image when inequity is framed as White privilege but not when framed as anti-Black discrimination. Manipulations of Whites' need for self-regard were hypothesized to affect their perceptions of White privilege but not of anti-Black discrimination. In Experiment 1, White participants reported less privilege when given threatening (vs. affirming) feedback on an intelligence or personality test; in contrast, perceptions of anti-Black discrimination were unaffected by self-concept manipulations. In Experiment 2, threatening (vs. affirming) feedback decreased privilege perceptions only among Whites high in racial identity. Using a value-based self-affirmation manipulation, Experiment 3 replicated the effect of self-image concerns on Whites' perceptions of privilege and provided evidence that self-concerns, through their effect on perceived privilege, influence Whites' support for redistributive social policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1237-1250
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Inequity
  • Self-enhancement
  • White identity
  • White privilege

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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