"Lifting as We Climb?": The Role of Stereotypes in the Evaluation of Political Candidates at the Intersection of Race and Gender

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2012

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Carew, Jessica Denyse Johnson

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McClain, Paula D

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Abstract

This dissertation examines the topic of social perceptions regarding political candidates at the intersection of race and gender. Within this project I analyze 1) the degree to which stereotypes are held at different points of this intersection; 2) the degree to which these stereotypes can be influenced by way of priming via common news reporting messages; and 3) the ways in which these stereotypes and perceptions influence evaluations of Black female political candidates and their electoral prospects. In order to examine these issues, I utilize data from two surveys I have designed: the 2011 Social Cognition and Evaluation Survey and the 2012 Political Candidate Evaluation and Social Beliefs Survey. The former gathers information regarding social and personal perceptions of "average" and "elite" Black women, White women, Black men, and White men, and the ways in which negative intersectional priming messages can influence the evaluation of each of these groups. The latter survey includes an embedded experiment in which respondents participate in two mock elections and candidate evaluations. One mock election includes a Black female with a relatively dark complexion as the fixed candidate and the other includes a Black female with a relatively light complexion as the fixed candidate, with each competing against either a White male, White female, or Black male opponent. Based on the data from the aforementioned surveys, I find that people engage in stereotyping in an intersectional, rather than a one-dimensional, manner. Consequently, Black women at different social status levels and with differing skin tones are subject to distinct intensities of the attribution of racialized, gendered, and intersectional stereotypes. In turn, the ways in which the voting public evaluates them as political candidates are influenced by these stereotypes.

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Carew, Jessica Denyse Johnson (2012). "Lifting as We Climb?": The Role of Stereotypes in the Evaluation of Political Candidates at the Intersection of Race and Gender. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/5527.

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