Callaghan, Bennett, Leilah Harouni, Cydney H. Dupree, Michael W. Kraus, Jennifer A. Richeson (2021). Testing the Efficacy of Three Informational Interventions for Reducing Misperceptions of the Black–White Wealth Gap. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(38), e2108875118; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2108875118.
Americans remain unaware of the magnitude of economic inequality in the nation and the degree to which it is patterned by race. We exposed a community sample of respondents to one of three interventions designed to promote a more realistic understanding of the Black–White wealth gap. The interventions conformed to recommendations in messaging about racial inequality drawn from the social sciences yet differed in how they highlighted data-based trends in Black–White wealth inequality, a single personal narrative, or both. Data interventions were more effective than the narrative in both shifting how people talk about racial wealth inequality—eliciting less speech about personal achievement—and, critically, lowering estimates of Black–White wealth equality for at least 18 mo following baseline, which aligned more with federal estimates of the Black–White wealth gap. Findings from this study highlight how data, along with current recommendations in the social sciences, can be leveraged to promote more accurate understandings of the magnitude of racial inequality in society, laying the necessary groundwork for messaging about equity-enhancing policy.
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