What is it about?

We compared how data vs. stories about racial inequality in the US would allow people to be more accurate in their perceptions of the Black-White wealth inequality. We found that data was more effective in getting people to be more accurate about the magnitude of the Black-White wealth gap. The accuracy lasted for up to 18 months although accuracy did get worse over that time span.

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Why is it important?

Americans are historically inaccurate about the level of Black-White wealth inequality, believing that things are largely more equal than they are. This study shows that presenting data can be helpful in correcting these misperceptions, although the effectiveness has its limits and people did become less accurate over time. Without accuracy we do not have the necessary knowledge and groundwork for debating and discussing more equitable economic policies.


As an author, I think that this paper helps us better understand how hard it is to persuade people about the conditions of racial inequality in the US, and just how committed people are to not knowing these facts about our history and present.

Michael Kraus
Yale University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Testing the efficacy of three informational interventions for reducing misperceptions of the Black–White wealth gap, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2108875118.
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