Public perceptions of prejudice research: The double-edged sword faced by marginalized group researchers

Michael Thai, Morgana Lizzio-Wilson, Hema Preya Selvanathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Researchers from marginalized groups often make important social scientific discoveries about prejudice, particularly when they are members of the group under investigation (e.g., women studying sexism, Black Americans studying racism). But is the scientific integrity and validity of their work perceived differently by virtue of their membership in the marginalized group? Across three survey experiments conducted in the domains of weight stigma, racism, and sexism research (total N = 1317), we find that researchers from a marginalized group whose research focuses on prejudice against their ingroup face a double-edged sword. On one hand, they are perceived as having greater psychological standing and expertise in the research area owing to their personal experience and insight into the processes they are researching. This, in turn, facilitates greater trust in, and perceived legitimacy of, their research. On the other hand, their research is simultaneously considered less trustworthy and legitimate because it is perceived as being motivated by a vested interest, in terms of having a personal agenda in the research. These findings demonstrate the competing biases that affect public perceptions of marginalized group researchers and their work in the area of prejudice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104181
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume96
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Bias
  • Prejudice research
  • Public engagement
  • Science perceptions
  • Social identity

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