What is it about?

We found that if you’re a white or black person living in a region with more infectious diseases, you have a strong feeling in favor of your in-group and a stronger opposition to your out-group. This effect occurs even if we control for individual factors like age, political ideology, religious belief, education and gender, and a number of state-level factors, including median income, inequality, population density, race exposure, and confederate state"

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Why is it important?

This research offers a new way of explaining intergroup prejudices. It also points to possible methods of combat prejudice – by increasing health care spending. Conclusions could also inform educational methods to alleviate prejudice towards immigrants and refugees


“This research indicates that restrictions in access to health care, due to costs or lack of insurance, could have a devastating impact on intergroup relations if it leads to higher infectious disease rates. To foster the right conditions for a cohesive and integrated community, policies must be put in place to ensure vulnerable groups in society have equal access to health care.” “People want to know what causes racial bias. This research provides evidence that prejudice is deeply influenced by the problem of avoiding and resisting infectious diseases. There is much promise in this knowledge for reducing prejudice.”

Brian OShea
Harvard University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Infectious Disease Prevalence, Not Race Exposure, Predicts Both Implicit and Explicit Racial Prejudice Across the United States, Social Psychological and Personality Science, July 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/1948550619862319.
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