Racial biases and COVID-19 anxiety in America : how do healthcare workers compare to the public?


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Considering how often marginalized groups are ostracized during infectious disease outbreaks, it is important to revisit the relationship between outgroup bias and anxiety about said outbreaks. American healthcare workers are a group of particular interest given their frontline involvement in clinical outcomes. Using multiple regression and 2020 IAT data, I evaluate relationships between racial bias and COVID-19 anxiety. I find that bias against Black people — implicit or explicit — is negatively associated with COVID anxiety. Additionally, while American healthcare workers’ implicit racial bias has a weaker association with COVID anxiety compared to the public, the association between explicit bias and anxiety is stronger among healthcare workers. Meanwhile, Black respondents show no relationship between implicit bias and COVID anxiety. Overall, my findings show that racial bias is negatively related to COVID anxiety in and out of healthcare, supporting my key contention that racism perpetuates racial inequality through increased apathy toward pandemic-related risks.