White privilege in the face of COVID-19 threat.


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Recent work on the psychology of privilege posits that evidence of White Privilege poses a threat to White individuals’ self- regard, motivating defensive responding. However, existing literature explores this phenomenon as a unitary source of threat, without consideration of external conditions that might affect how White individuals interact with their privileged status. The current study (N = 283) experimentally manipulated exposure to the external threat of COVID-19 to investigate perceptions of White Privilege when the domains in which privilege affords advantage are threatened. Consistent with previous findings, we hypothesized that participants exposed to COVID-19 threat would demonstrate defensive responding in the form of White Privilege denial and increased claims of life hardship to maintain resources threatened and restore positive self- regard. Instead, we found that experiencing negative affect following exposure to COVID-19 threat increased egalitarian attitudes toward White Privilege, and this effect is influenced by person- level ideology. These findings hold important implications for the understanding of inequity and implementation of inequity- reduction interventions.



White privilege. Threat. COVID-19. Prejudice.