Obama may think he is American, but white Americans don”t think so: Experts

October 13th, 2008 - 4:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Oct.13 (ANI): Does your subconscious think Obama is Foreign? Yes, if you go by the findings of two American psychologists Mahzarin Banaji and Thierry Devos.
According to a series of three experiments undertaken by them, people are increasingly using ethnicity as a proxy to establish American identity and equating whites, even white foreigners, with things American.
Banaji and Devos found that the participants, who were asked to answer quickly, were dramatically quicker to associate American symbols with British actors, and the foreign symbols with the Asian Americans.
The psychologists initially assumed that this bias began and ended with Asian Americans and would not apply to other ethnic groups.
But in another experiment involving famous black athletes around the time of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, they found that the same pattern applied to African Americans. Black participants, on the other hand, were as quick to associate black athletes as white athletes with being American.
“The reason this is powerful is it shows our minds will not just distort our preferences but distort facts,” said Banaji, who works at Harvard. ”
African Americans in their minds are fully American, but not in the minds of whites,” he adds. In a final set of experiments completed just last week, Thierry said the researchers had found an identical pattern when they compared people’’s subconscious associations with Obama and his Republican presidential opponent John McCain.
On a conscious level, volunteers said that both Obama and McCain were American, but on a subconscious level, volunteers were quicker to associate McCain with being American than Obama — and the strength of these subconscious associations predicted people’’s voting intentions.
“The less you see Obama as American compared to McCain, the less likely you are to vote for him,” Devos said.
The research in no way suggests that all of Obama’’s opponents are racially biased — people who do not find Obama appealing may well reach their conclusions based on policy positions, partisan identification and personal circumstances.
But Devos said the difficulty in seeing African Americans as fully American is clearly a drag on Obama’’s prospects, without which he would probably be further ahead in the polls.
The provocative research also may help explain why Obama has proved vulnerable to negative messages that question his identity and his loyalty to America.
“Suggesting Obama is foreign or unknown offers a cover for racism.You can”t say he is black and unfit to be president, but you can say that he is Muslim and therefore unfit to be president,” said Banaji. (ANI)

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