Obama Effect played big role in reducing racism, says study

February 23rd, 2009 - 6:47 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Washington, Feb 23 (ANI): A study has revealed that Barack Obama played a big role in changing the way the whites thought about African-Americans, even before he was elected US President.

The researcher carried out by Florida State University Psychology Professor E. Ashby Plant and University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Patricia Devine recorded a decrease in racial prejudice.

The decline was seen during the Fall 2008 period between the Democratic Partys nomination of Obama and the November 4 election, and they have called it as the Obama Effect.

The unprecedented drop in implicit bias observed in our studies indicates that the impact of Obamas historic campaign went beyond his winning the election, the researchers wrote in a paper outlining the studys results that has not yet been published.

It appears to have produced a fundamental change in at least the minds of the American public. Although the full impact of this historic election will play out over time, we are encouraged by the early returns, the paper said.

The study involved about 300 non-black (white, Asian or Hispanic) college students in Wisconsin and Florida participating in a variety of experiments and surveys designed to measure stereotyping and implicit prejudice

The experiments checked the kind of prejudice that is typically described as automatic or knee-jerk and, even though not directly stated, can still influence peoples behaviour.

The researchers suspected that the dramatic change could be attributed to exposure to Obama during his presidential campaign and sought to find out if there was indeed, a connection.

To do so, they asked participants what comes to mind when they think of African-Americans and what they anticipated would come to mind for others when they think of African-Americans.

Participants listed a range of responses, including traits, physical characteristics, food items and people.

Almost 22 percent listed Obama on at least one list, and 50 percent named at least one other positive exemplar such as Martin Luther King Jr.

The fact that close to a quarter of our participants listed Obama indicates that he had permeated many peoples consciousness to the point that he was highly accessible, Plant said.

We were able to demonstrate that the accessibility of positive exemplars in peoples minds was related to their degree of implicit bias, he added. (ANI)

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