How believing in affirmative action quotas protects White men's self-esteem

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We propose that White men derive a psychological benefit from believing that affirmative action is a quota-based policy. Three studies provide evidence that quota beliefs protect White men's self-esteem by boosting their sense of self-competence. Study 1 found a positive relationship between quota beliefs and self-esteem that was mediated by self-perceived competence. In Studies 2 and 3, the belief in affirmative action quotas-whether measured or experimentally manipulated-protected White men's self-esteem from self-image threatening feedback. Only participants who did not believe in quotas reported a lower self-esteem after being told they had performed poorly on an intelligence test. As in Study 1, this effect was mediated by self-perceived competence. In all, these studies suggest that the belief that affirmative action is a quota policy may persist, in part, because it benefits White mens' self-esteem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume105
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Keywords

  • Affirmative action beliefs
  • Attributional ambiguity
  • Diversity
  • Race
  • Reverse discrimination
  • Self-affirmation theory
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-image maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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