Academic Appointments


  • Professor, Organizational Behavior

2021-22 Courses


Stanford Advisees


All Publications


  • I Ain't No Fortunate One: On the Motivated Denial of Class Privilege JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Phillips, L., Lowery, B. S. 2020; 119 (6): 1403–22

    Abstract

    [Correction Notice: An Erratum for this article was reported in Vol 119(6) of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (see record 2021-01144-001). In the article, in the Independent variables subsection of Experiment 6, the second paragraph is duplicated here in error. The correct location appears as the fourth paragraph of this subsection. All versions of this article have been corrected.] Invisibility makes privilege powerful. Especially when it remains unexposed, privilege perpetuates inequity by giving unearned advantages to certain groups over others. However, recent social movements (e.g., Occupy) attempt to expose class-based privilege, threatening its invisibility. Across 8 experiments, we show that beneficiaries of class privilege respond to such exposure by increasing their claims of personal hardships and hard work, to cover privilege in a veneer of meritocracy. Experiments 1a-c show that when people are provided evidence of their own class privilege, they claim to have suffered more personal life hardships. Experiment 2 suggests that these claims are driven in part by threats to self-regard. Experiment 3 finds that such self-defense is motivated specifically by a desire to attribute positive outcomes to the self (i.e., sense of personal merit). When given the chance to first bolster their sense of personal merit, those benefitting from privilege no longer claim hardships in response to evidence of privilege. Experiments 4 and 5 further suggest self-concerns are at play: only self-relevant privilege evokes defensive responses, and self-affirmation reduces hardship claims more than does system-affirmation. Finally, Experiment 6 suggests that people claim hardships because they believe these imply personal merit on their part. Preventing the privileged from claiming hardship leads them to claim increased effort in the workplace and to increase effort on a difficult task. Overall, results suggest that even when those benefitting from class privileges are confronted with evidence of their "invisible knapsack," ideologies of personal merit help them cover the privileges of class once again. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

    View details for DOI 10.1037/pspi0000240

    View details for Web of Science ID 000605238600009

    View details for PubMedID 32551742

  • Gendered racial boundary maintenance: Social penalties for White women in interracial relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology Stillwell, A. n., Lowery, B. S. 2020

    Abstract

    Throughout American history, formal laws and social norms have discouraged interracial romantic relationships. Interracial relationships blur the boundaries between racial groups, challenging the essentialized racial categories that define Whiteness as an exclusive, high status identity. Whites, who are the most resistant to interracial marriage of any racial group, have used their dominant position in American society to enforce norms against interracial relationships. Despite the importance of racial homogamy to White identity and status, we argue that gender roles make violating norms against intimate intergroup contact more costly for women than men, leading to Whites' greater resistance to interracial relationships involving White women. In a representative American sample using a natural quasi-experiment, as well as 3 follow-up lab experiments, we find that White women face differential social penalties for intimate intergroup contact-being perceived as gender deviant and low status within the group. By contrast, having a racial out-group partner did not influence status perceptions of men or Black women. Status perceptions of both individuals in the couple predicted attitudes toward the couple as a unit, leading to greater prejudice toward interracial relationships involving White women than White men. This research demonstrates the existence of a gendered double standard for intimate intergroup contact among Whites, revealing that gender norms play a critical role in the maintenance of American racial boundaries. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

    View details for DOI 10.1037/pspi0000332

    View details for PubMedID 32915039

  • Herd Invisibility: The Psychology of Racial Privilege CURRENT DIRECTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Phillips, L., Lowery, B. S. 2018; 27 (3): 156–62
  • Keeping Minorities Happy: Hierarchy Maintenance and Whites' Decreased Support for Highly Identified White Politicians. Personality & social psychology bulletin Jun, S. n., Lowery, B. S., Guillory, L. n. 2017; 43 (12): 1615–29

    Abstract

    We test the hypothesis that, to avoid provoking minorities, Whites will withhold their support for White political candidates who are highly identified with their race. In Study 1, we found that White Republicans were less supportive of White candidates the higher the perceived White identity of the candidate due to beliefs that such candidates would provoke racial minorities. In Study 2, we replicated this effect with a manipulation of candidates' White identity. Study 3 found that Whites reported less support for high-identity candidates when they were led to believe that the hierarchy was unstable rather than stable. Consistent with our hypothesis that those who have the most to lose are most likely to avoid provoking minorities, in Study 4, we found that Whites with high subjective socioeconomic status (SES) varied their support for provocative White candidates as a function of hierarchy stability, whereas those with low subjective SES did not.

    View details for PubMedID 28914157

  • The hard-knock life? Whites claim hardships in response to racial inequity JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Phillips, L. T., Lowery, B. S. 2015; 61: 12-18
  • The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality without Racism. (Book Review) ADMINISTRATIVE SCIENCE QUARTERLY Book Review Authored by: Lowery, B. 2014; 59 (4): NP49-NP51
  • Deny, Distance, or Dismantle? How White Americans Manage a Privileged Identity PERSPECTIVES ON PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Knowles, E. D., Lowery, B. S., Chow, R. M., Unzueta, M. M. 2014; 9 (6): 594-609

    Abstract

    Social scientists have traditionally argued that whiteness-the attribute of being recognized and treated as a White person in society-is powerful because it is invisible. On this view, members of the racially dominant group have the unique luxury of rarely noticing their race or the privileges it confers. This article challenges this "invisibility thesis," arguing that Whites frequently regard themselves as racial actors. We further argue that whiteness defines a problematic social identity that confronts Whites with 2 psychological threats: the possibility that their accomplishments in life were not fully earned (meritocratic threat) and the association with a group that benefits from unfair social advantages (group-image threat). We theorize that Whites manage their racial identity to dispel these threats. According to our deny, distance, or dismantle (3D) model of White identity management, dominant-group members have three strategies at their disposal: deny the existence of privilege, distance their own self-concepts from the White category, or strive to dismantle systems of privilege. Whereas denial and distancing promote insensitivity and inaction with respect to racial inequality, dismantling reduces threat by relinquishing privileges. We suggest that interventions aimed at reducing inequality should attempt to leverage dismantling as a strategy of White identity management.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1745691614554658

    View details for Web of Science ID 000345305100002

  • Deny, Distance, or Dismantle? How White Americans Manage a Privileged Identity. Perspectives on psychological science Knowles, E. D., Lowery, B. S., Chow, R. M., Unzueta, M. M. 2014; 9 (6): 594-609

    Abstract

    Social scientists have traditionally argued that whiteness-the attribute of being recognized and treated as a White person in society-is powerful because it is invisible. On this view, members of the racially dominant group have the unique luxury of rarely noticing their race or the privileges it confers. This article challenges this "invisibility thesis," arguing that Whites frequently regard themselves as racial actors. We further argue that whiteness defines a problematic social identity that confronts Whites with 2 psychological threats: the possibility that their accomplishments in life were not fully earned (meritocratic threat) and the association with a group that benefits from unfair social advantages (group-image threat). We theorize that Whites manage their racial identity to dispel these threats. According to our deny, distance, or dismantle (3D) model of White identity management, dominant-group members have three strategies at their disposal: deny the existence of privilege, distance their own self-concepts from the White category, or strive to dismantle systems of privilege. Whereas denial and distancing promote insensitivity and inaction with respect to racial inequality, dismantling reduces threat by relinquishing privileges. We suggest that interventions aimed at reducing inequality should attempt to leverage dismantling as a strategy of White identity management.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1745691614554658

    View details for PubMedID 26186110

  • Race, Ideology, and the Tea Party: A Longitudinal Study PLOS ONE Knowles, E. D., Lowery, B. S., Shulman, E. P., Schaumberg, R. L. 2013; 8 (6)

    Abstract

    The Tea Party movement, which rose to prominence in the United States after the election of President Barack Obama, provides an ideal context in which to examine the roles of racial concerns and ideology in politics. A three-wave longitudinal study tracked changes in White Americans' self-identification with the Tea Party, racial concerns (prejudice and racial identification), and ideologies (libertarianism and social conservatism) over nine months. Latent Growth Modeling (LGM) was used to evaluate potential causal relationships between Tea Party identification and these factors. Across time points, racial prejudice was indirectly associated with movement identification through Whites' assertions of national decline. Although initial levels of White identity did not predict change in Tea Party identification, initial levels of Tea Party identification predicted increases in White identity over the study period. Across the three assessments, support for the Tea Party fell among libertarians, but rose among social conservatives. Results are discussed in terms of legitimation theories of prejudice, the "racializing" power of political judgments, and the ideological dynamics of the Tea Party.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0067110

    View details for Web of Science ID 000321223000080

    View details for PubMedID 23825630

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3692430

  • Appeasement: Whites' Strategic Support for Affirmative Action PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN Chow, R. M., Lowery, B. S., Hogan, C. M. 2013; 39 (3): 332-345

    Abstract

    This article explores the possibility that dominant-group members will attempt to appease subordinate groups to protect the hierarchy. In four studies, we find that (a) prohierarchy Whites perceive more intergroup threat when they believe ethnic minorities hold Whites in low regard, (b) prohierarchy Whites respond to ethnic minorities' low regard for Whites by increasing their support for redistributive policies (e.g., affirmative action), (c) the increase in support only occurs when prohierarchy Whites perceive the hierarchy to be unstable, and (d) prohierarchy Whites perceive the hierarchy to be more stable if they believe Whites support redistributive policies. These results suggest that prohierarchy dominant-group members' support for redistributive policies can stem from a concern about maintaining the hierarchical status quo, and provides evidence that support for redistributive policies can be a hierarchy-enhancing strategy.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0146167212475224

    View details for Web of Science ID 000319006900006

    View details for PubMedID 23376890

  • Paying for Positive Group Esteem: How Inequity Frames Affect Whites' Responses to Redistributive Policies JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Lowery, B. S., Chow, R. M., Knowles, E. D., Unzueta, M. M. 2012; 102 (2): 323-336

    Abstract

    This article finds that, when faced with racial inequity framed as White advantage, Whites' desire to think well of their racial group increases their support for policies perceived to harm Whites. Across 4 studies, the article provides evidence that (a) relative to minority disadvantage, White advantage increases Whites' support for policies perceived to reduce their group's economic opportunities, but does not increase support for policies perceived to increase minority opportunities; and (b) the effect of White advantage on Whites' esteem for their ingroup drives the effect of inequity frame on support for policies perceived to reduce Whites' opportunities.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/a0024598

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299250000008

    View details for PubMedID 21823803

  • Meritocracy, Self-Concerns, and Whites' Denial of Racial Inequity SELF AND IDENTITY Knowles, E. D., Lowery, B. S. 2012; 11 (2): 202-222
  • The Impact of Race-Based Performance Differences on Perceptions of Test Legitimacy JOURNAL OF APPLIED SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Unzueta, M. M., Lowery, B. S. 2010; 40 (8): 1948-1968
  • When Inequality Matters: The Effect of Inequality Frames on Academic Engagement JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Lowery, B. S., Wout, D. A. 2010; 98 (6): 956-966

    Abstract

    Research indicates that, among women and ethnic minorities, perceived inequality reduces the association between self-esteem and academic outcomes. The present studies demonstrate that the perception of social inequality does not always induce subordinate-group disengagement. Rather, inequality framed as dominant-group advantage allows subordinate groups to remain engaged and causes dominant groups to disengage. Experiments 1-3 demonstrate that academic inequality framed in terms of ingroup disadvantage causes Black, Latino, and female students to disengage, but inequality framed in terms of White or male advantage does not. Experiments 3 and 4 demonstrate the same effect for Whites and men--inequality framed in terms of the ingroup (i.e., advantage) causes disengagement, but inequality framed as outgroup disadvantage does not.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/a0017926

    View details for Web of Science ID 000278238200008

    View details for PubMedID 20515251

  • Thanks, but no thanks: The role of personal responsibility in the experience of gratitude JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Chow, R. M., Lowery, B. S. 2010; 46 (3): 487-493
  • Racial prejudice predicts opposition to Obama and his health care reform plan JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Knowles, E. D., Lowery, B. S., Schaumberg, R. L. 2010; 46 (2): 420-423
  • TO BE FAIR OR TO BE DOMINANT: THE EFFECT OF INEQUALITY FRAMES ON DOMINANT GROUP MEMBERS' RESPONSES TO INEQUITY FAIRNESS AND GROUPS Chow, R. M., Lowery, B. S., Knowles, E. D., Mannix, E. A., Neale, M. A., Mullen, E. 2010; 13: 183-204
  • Anti-egalitarians for Obama? Group-dominance motivation and the Obama vote JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Knowles, E. D., Lowery, B. S., Schaumberg, R. L. 2009; 45 (4): 965-969
  • On the Malleability of Ideology: Motivated Construals of Color Blindness JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Knowles, E. D., Lowery, B. S., Hogan, C. M., Chow, R. M. 2009; 96 (4): 857-869

    Abstract

    The authors propose that the content of certain sociopolitical ideologies can be shaped by individuals in ways that satisfy their social motivations. This notion was tested in the context of color-blind ideology. Color blindness, when construed as a principle of distributive justice, is an egalitarian stance concerned with reducing discrepancies between groups' outcomes; as a principle of procedural justice, however, color blindness can function as a legitimizing ideology that entrenches existing inequalities. In Study 1, White people high in antiegalitarian sentiment were found to shift their construal of color blindness from a distributive to a procedural principle when exposed to intergroup threat. In Studies 2, 3A, and 3B, the authors used manipulations and a measure of threat to show that antiegalitarian White people endorse color blindness to legitimize the racial status quo. In Study 3B, participants' endorsement of color-blind ideology was mediated by increases in their preference for equal treatment (i.e., procedural justice) as a response to threat. In the Discussion section, the authors examine implications of the present perspective for understanding the manner in which individuals compete over the meaning of crucial ideologies.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/a0013595

    View details for Web of Science ID 000264489400010

    View details for PubMedID 19309207

  • Taking from those that have more and giving to those that have less: How inequity frames affect corrections for inequity JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Lowery, B. S., Chow, R. M., Crosby, J. R. 2009; 45 (2): 375-378
  • Defining racism safely: The role of self-image maintenance on white Americans' conceptions of racism JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Unzueta, M. M., Lowery, B. S. 2008; 44 (6): 1491-1497
  • The two faces of dominance: The differential effect of ingroup superiority and outgroup inferiority on dominant-group identity and group esteem JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Chow, R. M., Lowery, B. S., Knowles, E. D. 2008; 44 (4): 1073-1081
  • How believing in affirmative action quotas protects White men's self-esteem ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR AND HUMAN DECISION PROCESSES Unzueta, M. M., Lowery, B. S., Knowles, E. D. 2008; 105 (1): 1-13
  • Framing inequity safely: Whites' motivated perceptions of racial privilege PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN Lowery, B. S., Knowles, E. D., Unzueta, M. M. 2007; 33 (9): 1237-1250

    Abstract

    Racial inequity was theorized to threaten Whites' self-image when inequity is framed as White privilege but not when framed as anti-Black discrimination. Manipulations of Whites' need for self-regard were hypothesized to affect their perceptions of White privilege but not of anti-Black discrimination. In Experiment 1, White participants reported less privilege when given threatening (vs. affirming) feedback on an intelligence or personality test; in contrast, perceptions of anti-Black discrimination were unaffected by self-concept manipulations. In Experiment 2, threatening (vs. affirming) feedback decreased privilege perceptions only among Whites high in racial identity. Using a value-based self-affirmation manipulation, Experiment 3 replicated the effect of self-image concerns on Whites' perceptions of privilege and provided evidence that self-concerns, through their effect on perceived privilege, influence Whites' support for redistributive social policies.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0146167207303016

    View details for Web of Science ID 000249000700006

    View details for PubMedID 17556675

  • Long-term effects of subliminal priming on academic performance BASIC AND APPLIED SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Lowery, B. S., Eisenberger, N. I., Hardin, C. D., Sinclair, S. 2007; 29 (2): 151-157
  • Concern for the in-group and opposition to affirmative action JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Lowery, B. S., Unzueta, M. M., Knowles, E. D., Goff, P. A. 2006; 90 (6): 961-974

    Abstract

    The present experiments suggest that the desire to benefit the in-group drives dominant-group members' policy preferences, independent of concern for out-groups' outcomes. In Experiment 1, the effect of a manipulation of affirmative action procedures on policy support was mediated by how Whites expected the policy to affect fellow Whites, but not by the expected effect on minorities. In Experiments 2 and 3, when focused on losses for the White in-group, Whites' racial identity was negatively related to support for affirmative action. However, when focused on gains for the Black out-group or when participants were told that Whites were not affected by the policy, racial identity did not predict attitudes toward the policy. In Experiments 2 and 3, perceived fairness mediated these effects.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/0022-3514.90.6.961

    View details for Web of Science ID 000238589800007

    View details for PubMedID 16784345

  • Self-stereotyping in the context of multiple social identities JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Sinclair, S., Hardin, C. D., Lowery, B. S. 2006; 90 (4): 529-542

    Abstract

    This research examines self-stereotyping in the context of multiple social identities and shows that self-stereotyping is a function of stereotyped expectancies held in particular relationships. Participants reported how others evaluated their math and verbal ability and how they viewed their own ability when their gender or ethnicity was salient. Asian American women (Experiment 1) and European Americans (Experiment 2) exhibited knowledge of stereotyped social expectancies and corresponding self-stereotyping associated with their more salient identity. African Americans (Experiment 3) exhibited some knowledge of stereotyped social expectancies but no corresponding self-stereotyping. Correlational evidence and a 4th experiment suggest that self-stereotyping is mediated by the degree to which close others are perceived to endorse stereotypes as applicable to the self.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/0022-3514.90.4.529

    View details for Web of Science ID 000237370500001

    View details for PubMedID 16649853

  • Social tuning of automatic racial attitudes: The role of affiliative motivation JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Sinclair, S., Lowery, B. S., Hardin, C. D., Colangelo, A. 2005; 89 (4): 583-592

    Abstract

    Consistent with the affiliative social tuning hypothesis, this study showed that the desire to get along with another person shifted participants' automatic attitudes toward the ostensible attitudes of that person. In Experiment 1, the automatic racial attitudes of women but not men emulated those of an experimenter displaying race-egalitarian attitudes or attitudes neutral with respect to race. Mediational analysis revealed that the gender difference in social tuning was mediated by liking for the experimenter. In Experiment 2, the likability of the experimenter was manipulated. Individuals who interacted with a likable experimenter exhibited social tuning more so than did those who interacted with a rude experimenter. These findings suggest that affiliative motives may elicit malleability of automatic attitudes independent of manipulations of social group exemplars.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/0022-3514.89.4.583

    View details for Web of Science ID 000233251700009

    View details for PubMedID 16287420

  • The relationship between parental racial attitudes and children's implicit prejudice JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Sinclair, S., Dunn, E., Lowery, B. S. 2005; 41 (3): 283-289
  • Priming unconscious racial stereotypes about adolescent offenders LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR Graham, S., Lowery, B. S. 2004; 28 (5): 483-504

    Abstract

    Two studies examined unconscious racial stereotypes of decision makers in the juvenile justice system. Police officers (Experiment 1) and juvenile probation officers (Experiment 2) were subliminally exposed to words related to the category Black or to words neutral with respect to race. In a presumably unrelated task, officers read 2 vignettes about a hypothetical adolescent who allegedly committed either a property crime (shoplifting from a convenience store) or an interpersonal crime (assaulting a peer). The race of the offender was left unstated and the scenarios were ambiguous about the causes of the crime. Respondents rated the hypothetical offender on a number of traits (e.g., hostility and immaturity) and made judgments about culpability, expected recidivism, and deserved punishment. They also completed a self-report measure of conscious attitudes about race. As hypothesized, officers in the racial prime condition reported more negative trait ratings, greater culpability, and expected recidivism, and they endorsed harsher punishment than did officers in the neutral condition. The effects of the racial primes were not moderated by consciously held attitudes about African Americans. The implications of the findings for racial disparity in the juvenile justice system and for changing unconscious stereotypes were discussed.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000225784600001

    View details for PubMedID 15638206