According to a new study out from Yale University, white liberals actually dumb down their speech when talking to minorities. Conservatives, on the other hand, use the same language no matter whom they’re talking to.
In a study they plan to publish in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Yale actually found that “white liberals tend to downplay their own verbal competence in exchanges with racial minorities, compared to how other white Americans act in such exchanges.”
For part of the study, Yale researchers analyzed the words used in campaign speeches delivered by Democratic and Republican presidential candidates over the past 30 years or so, ultimately finding that Democratic politicians “used fewer competence-related words in speeches delivered to mostly minority audiences than they did in speeches delivered to mostly white audiences.”
“It was really surprising to see that for nearly three decades, Democratic presidential candidates have been engaging in this predicted behavior,” Yale researchers admitted.
For another part of the study, Yale presented a sampling of random white participants with two made-up people – one with the more generally white name “Emily,” and the other named “Lakisha.” Researchers then asked participants to select from a list of words to include in an email to both fictional women.
It turns out participants who self-identified as “liberal” were more likely to use simpler words when talking to “Lakisha,” choosing basic terms like “sad” over ones like “melancholy.”
On the other hand, Yale found that “no significant differences were seen in the word selection of conservatives based on the presumed race of their partner.”
While Yale said it’s possible liberals just want to come across as more likeable by using less hoity-toity verbiage, researchers Cydney Dupree and Susan Fiske said it’s also likely that they’re buying into the stereotype that minorities are less educated or intelligent than whites.
“It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect,” Dupree says. “Even if it’s ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.”
Even more disturbingly, Yale found that “describing a black person as highly intelligent, thus reversing the stereotype, or as already highly motivated to get along with whites, thus removing the need to prove goodwill, can reduce the likelihood that a white person will downplay their competence in their interactions with the black person.” Without this disclaimer, though, liberals are apparently apt to assume their black listener is a total moron.
But yeah, right-wingers are the real racists who think black folks are dumber than a sack of hammers. Sure.