Taking Race Off the Table: Agenda Setting and Support for Color-Blind Public Policy

Rosalind M. Chow, Eric D. Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whites are theorized to support color-blind policies as an act of racial agenda setting—an attempt to defend the existing hierarchy by excluding race from public and institutional discourse. The present analysis leverages work distinguishing between two forms of social dominance orientation (SDO): passive opposition to equality (SDO-E) and active desire for dominance (SDO-D). We hypothesized that agenda setting, as a subtle hierarchy-maintenance strategy, would be uniquely tied to high levels of SDO-E. When made to believe that the hierarchy was under threat, Whites high in SDO-E increased their endorsement of color-blind policy (Study 1), particularly when the racial hierarchy was framed as ingroup advantage (Study 2), and became less willing to include race as a topic in a hypothetical presidential debate (Study 3). Across studies, Whites high in SDO-D showed no affinity for agenda setting as a hierarchy-maintenance strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-39
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • agenda setting
  • color-blind policy
  • hierarchy maintenance
  • social dominance orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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