The competence downshift by white liberals

Most Whites, particularly sociopolitical liberals, now endorse racial equality. Archival and experimental research reveals a subtle but persistent ironic consequence: White liberals self-present less competence to minorities than to other Whites—that is, they patronize minorities stereotyped as lower status and less competent. In an initial archival demonstration of the competence downshift, Study 1 examined the content of White Republican and Democratic presidential candidates’ campaign speeches. Although Republican candidates did not significantly shift language based on audience racial composition, Democratic candidates used less competence-related language to minority audiences than to White audiences. Across 5 experiments (total N = 2,157), White participants responded to a Black or White hypothetical (Studies 2, 3, 4, S1) or ostensibly real (Study 5) interaction partner. Three indicators of self-presentation converged: competence-signaling of vocabulary selected for an assignment, competence-related traits selected for an introduction, and competence-related content of brief, open-ended introductions. Conservatism indicators included self-reported political affiliation (liberal-conservative), Right-Wing Authoritarianism (values-based conservatism), and Social Dominance Orientation (hierarchy-based conservatism). Internal meta-analyses revealed that liberals—but not conservatives—presented less competence to Black interaction partners than to White ones. The simple effect was small but significant across studies, and most reliable for the self-reported measure of conservatism. This possibly unintentional but ultimately patronizing competence-downshift suggests that well-intentioned liberal Whites may draw on low-status/competence stereotypes to affiliate with minorities.

Here is the paper by Dupree, C. H., & Fiske, S. T., yes there is a replication crisis in social psychology, nonetheless I thought this was worth passing along.

For the pointer I thank a loyal MR reader.


If your view of women and minorities is as universal and perpetual victims then why wouldn’t you instinctively speak to them more like children? By contrast Adam Smith spoke of African slaves brought over to America as coming from “a nation of heroes”.

If your view of women and minorities is as universal and perpetual victims then why wouldn’t you instinctively speak to them more like children? By contrast Adam Smith spoke of African slaves brought over to America as coming from “a nation of heroes”.

Quite right. A people abducted from their homelands, transported in chains to become the property of another, fought their way to freedom and respectability. But the good intentions of those who passed anti discrimination laws stopped this progress and brought us the sad culture of victimization and the constant quest for the scent of “racism”.

Not motivated by their good intentions, but by their emotional need to continue a just war that was won in 1965 by mutating it into a wrongheaded (and conveniently unwinnable) war on every perceivable or imaginable inequality. It is as if Patton, upon reaching Czechoslovakia, had decided to launch a general war on "tyranny" to satisfy his lust for a good tank battle.

Your comment may be the best ever on this topic.

OTOH, you might add that some people have a vested interest in continuing the war, despite the negative consequences for all.

Good comparison. Patton's brash and impulsive belligerence are exactly why he was sidelined.

"My men can eat their belts, but my tanks have gotta have gas."

"We promised the Europeans freedom. ... This might mean war with the Russians, but what of it? ... The Third Army alone and with damned few casualties, could lick what is left of the Russians in six weeks."

"Right-Wing Authoritarianism (values-based conservatism), and Social Dominance Orientation (hierarchy-based conservatism)"

These are my kind of conservatives. People who can speak the cold, hard truth. If minorities don't pull their weight, they have to change or else America becomes the United States of Mexico. Libs are too weak to do the job.

As shown here, one area where conservatives are leading the field is in explicitly revealing how awful their inner worlds are. Liberals have enough shame to smokescreen their racism, even though it is less egregious.

So liberals are more racist, but it's OK because they say they are not.

70 years later, and I cannot believe they are still using "Right-wing Authoritarianism", a personality-type diagnosis that was invented by a committed Marxist with no background in psychology.

'"Right-wing Authoritarianism", a personality-type diagnosis that was invented by a committed Marxist with no background in psychology'

And probably never even travelled to any South American country, right?


I see your snide attempt and dismissing my critiques as irrelevant by adding one which is absurdly irrelevant, but you just look foolish prior. A Marxist is the last person I'd want assessing what makes someone conservative, just as a Nazi is the last person I'd want assessing what is meant by "racial equality." Especially when they lack any prior track record in the social science in which they are working.

Look up the word Caudillo - it predates Marxism by decades.

A not so old example of a man who proudly called himself a Caudillo was Gen. Franco, though obviously he was not South American.

Not that anyone would ever confuse him with 'Right-wing Authoritarianism,' right?

Spanish pathologies persist in Latin America - the consequences of the new nations founded by the conquistadors.

"Right-wing authoritarian personality" theory does give social scientists an excuse to watch psych students shocking each other

I have said this to so many people a thousand times over...

It is the liberal order that is fundamentally hierarchical, class-based and difractive (it relies on difference and division to survive). Like Hillary's recent resurrection of her southern drawl or wealthy/hollywood lib types buy their kids into elite schools, it is a conscious (or even unconscious) methodology for obtaining/keeping power while faking solidarity with hundreds (if not thousands) of seperate groups they actually care nothing for.

This liberal order is breaking down in that the infighting and emboldening of these various castes is bringing their own power stuggles to the surface (ihlan omar and muslims vs jews, blacks vs latinos, lgbtqflavor-o-month libs against straight libs etc) in such a way that reveals the real shell game.

This also fits an idea out of Albion's Seed where there is a distinct reltionship with liberals (and southerners) to the 'cavaliers'...those anglo-saxon nobility that came to America in it's early years. It is the 'borderer' that is actually more egalitarian.

African Americans have never left the plantation. Ever. LBJ was absolutely successful. They have remained a solid Dem voting block ever since his 'great society' project.


Further proof of liberal 'difraction'? Nancy Pelosi was interviewed today saying she supports the idea of letting 16 year olds vote. 'Gotta get them while they're young'...her words.

So now it's adults vs. Kids. They must always find a new 'block'...every time one or more of their old standbys gets wise.

American blacks are aware, as whites are not, that they are not on the same team as Ilhan Omar.

Dozens killed by a white extremist.


But let's write a bunch of paragraphs about how softer speech(!) by liberals is an example of breakdown in the social order.

*In New Zealand*

In New Zealand a white 8chan poster killed innocent Muslims and streamed it. Let’s be clear who we’re talking about.

There is a link at the bottom that describes an international movement and sets it in context of old and new American politics.

But to illustrate further,

They were left wing eco terrorists.

Who was?

Headlines, at least have the attackers in NZ as eco terrorists worried the world is too populated.

And you are repeating that obviously idiotic untruth why?

It's more than headlines. Brenton Torrant goes into his eco-fascism in detail. It's clear he's more of a right wing eco terrorist.

"Because they are the same issue, the environment is being destroyed by
over population, we Europeans are one of the groups that are not over
populating the world. The invaders are the ones over populating the
world. Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the

"Ask yourself, truly, what has modern conservatism managed to conserve? ...Nothing is conserved. The natural environment is industrialized, pulverized and commoditized."

"Green nationalism is the only true nationalism
There is no Conservatism without nature, there is no nationalism without
environmentalism, the natural environment of our lands shaped us just as
we shaped it. For too long we have allowed the left to co-opt the environmentalist movement to serve their own needs. "

'Let’s be clear who we’re talking about.'

A terrorist, obviously.

-50 Huffle_mouse: Stoking racism and conflating American politics with foreign terrorism in a deliberately vague manner.

There is a grain of truth in this description of the modern liberal movement, but it is really overwhelmed up by the other-type racism of Trump's base and the cynical demagoguery and blatant corruption of the conservative movement.

BS. You think Trump gives a rat's ass what color you are? He cares if you are adding or subtracting from the economy. You're the racist if you automatically think 'subtracting' means black.

Are you going to die on the hill of claiming Trump is NOT a racist? After all his legal history, and the things he's said publicly and privately that became public? That's awesome.

He just cares if you're poor or not. Keep the poor folk away from his buildings. Not defending that, but not adding imaginary boogiemen either.

I'd agree he probably prefers rich blacks to poor whites, but he has said and been convicted of obviously racist things too. Why is it so hard to call a Trump a Trump?

yes there is a replication crisis in social psychology, nonetheless I thought this was worth passing along....especially since it confirms my bias

Ah, the Straussian reading.

Actually, it just confirms what the rest of us knew already: you don't have to dig very deep to find hypocrisy on the left vis-a-vis racial issues. The stereotype of the nice, well-intentioned liberals who decry systemic racism but live in the most monocultural neighborhoods in town and send their kids to private school...uh, didn't exactly spring out of nowhere.

Just because people have sympathy for others, and try to help, yet are imperfect in their efforts - how does this make them hypocrites?

Goes beyond "imperfect in efforts" into "says one thing, does the opposite."

If I give a homeless man a dollar, then go down to Starbucks and pay five bucks for fitty cents worth of coffee, am I a hyporcrite for not joining the beggar on the sidewalk?

If I advocate for a mobile basic dental care service in poor neighborhoods, must I skip advanced dental care for my own kids as well?

If I go around shouting about how racist everybody else is, but pay a substantial premium to live in a de facto segregated neighborhood, am I not guilty of some level of hypocrisy? Why yes, yes I am.

What proof do you have they seek segregated neighborhoods? Seems to me they seek wealthy neighborhoods, which happen to be segregated.

And yet, directly counter to your accusation, they actively advocate and support policies that threaten this supposed segregation they sought.

Segregation for me, but not for thee.

nonsense, there are people who work to erect barriers and those who work to reduce barriers.

everything else is the "why don't you give away your money and live in a cave" sophistry

Good point, many of the people you keep trying to defend don't like to put up barriers, they just move into places where the barriers just happened to be built already!

You probably think avocation for complete gun control/banning is completely consistent with hiring an armed body guard wherever one goes!

About as hypocritical as conservatives accepting Social Security, Medicare, and solar power tax credits. So, not at all.

Wrong answer. But thanks for playing.

Your response shows you got nothing. Surrender accepted.

It's a trap. If you live in a poor neighborhood you suffer from 'envy' and want 'class warfare'. Live in a rich neighborhood and you're a limousine liberal hypocrite.

The right wing in the US basically is the party of obnoxious teenagers in the bodies of 70 year old men. Diverting attention from their failures by demonstrating they can micromanage & subvert the moral systems of their parents..."why are you coming down on me for getting wasted, you drank 3 rum and cokes at the Christmas Party last year!"

McMike, if you advance a disparate impact view of what constitutes racism (ie any test, even apparently merit based ones, that has disparate impact on disadvantaged minority communities is assumed racist), then you cannot yourself avoid minority communities in your personal life choices without being a hypocrit. And I would draw policing in with the disparate impact group. If you have a minority group that commits homicide at 8-10x the rate of the rest of the population, do you really expect them to be policed the same? These conversations need to be approached with more appreciation for facts on the ground, but that would be racist, of course.

This was from me. Sorry about authorship mix up.

In the mad schadenfreude rush, the study and right-leaning commenters just assume that the tactic is distasteful. It's entirely possible that the Democrats are accurately adjusting their speech to their audience, as a considerate person would, and that the Republicans are incapable of doing so.

But that is the core of many arguments between dems and reps. Do we treat people that were historically mistreated the same way as those that weren't (with the hope that sooner or later the society will fix itself) or do we treat them with special bonuses (with the hope that we can accurately measure those effects and fix the problem faster than society/market would).

The reality is that both ways are not that different, both are not intrinsically racist or misogynist and both will probably fix society in a long term (it might take a few generations to take and measure effects). The whole "huge divide" between two outlooks is created and deepened artificially so that one party can get an edge over the other. It's all about power.

“both will probably fix society in a long term”.

Unlikely. When do special bonuses stop being issued? Never any discussion of that. Meanwhile giving one group special bonuses exacerbates in group/out group thinking, increasing racial affiliation and cultural tension. If your political career depends on such tensions, then you will govern in a way that precludes there being a “fixed society”. Because there’s always more injustice to “fix” somewhere even if you have to import it or allow it to slowly sleep across the border. As long as there are poor people in the world voter psychology can be exploited to further the career of well meaning but myopic liberal politicians. People who don’t have the insight to see how they are, in subtle ways, every bit as self serving and egotistical as those they like to demonize. A vicious circle perpetuated by people who aren’t able to face their own innate selfishness and the fact that life isn’t always fair.

“Treat them the same way” is a lie. It didnt happen, doesnt happen.

Thats why the idea of what you call a bonus emerged. Because treating the same way wasnt happening. Liberals got sick of waiting for jim crow segregationist society to magically mend itself from the back of the bus

Especially if it turns out this isn't church vs church speech, it's church speech vs donor group.

Think about it. Where do you get "black audiences?"

HBCU's, stupid.

Maybe they aren't dumbing down their speech. Maybe that is what they are. The putting on is when they are going to sound smart.

I'm curious how they will sound to Jewish audiences now. "You'll be ok if you don't wear your yarmulke".

You can come up for flattering rationalisations like this, but ask yourself if you would if data had come back indicating that Republicans "dumbed down" for minority audiences?

I suppose you *can* manufacture indications that almost anything, no matter how ostensibly negative, is a mark of the superiority of the side to which you are partisan, but it hardly seems honest to do so.

If I remember correctly from the last time this report was passed around the "competency level" by which conservatives speak to each other is not particularly higher than the level to which liberals speak to people of color. In other words, conservatives may not be capable of this behavior because their average base vocabulary is not high enough to drop down to any notable degree.

The study says very little about who's -really- the racists here, but maybe does say something about how biases manifest in different groups.

"Most Whites, particularly sociopolitical liberals, now endorse racial equality. ( NB: It's about time- Don) Archival and experimental research reveals a subtle but persistent ironic consequence"

Of course it does. When I read that someone had said the KKK needs to ride again, I knew it 's just a matter of time until we see a Research Abstract claiming to have studied the economic effects of the KKK riding again, showing that, while Whites gained a bit from the KKK riding again, an ironic consequence was that African-Americans were the big winners. What are the benefits or uses of this study, exactly?

Finally a rational reason for electing all those Democrats in Virginia.

Well, a glaring benefit is capitalizing 'White,' considering how often that adjective is written with 'W' in the cited excerpt.

Reduced to quibbling over capitalization. That is sad, even by your low standards, prior.

Quibbling? I was responding to Donald Pretari's question (yes, it was the last comment at the time, and got misplaced) 'What are the benefits or uses of this study, exactly?' and provided an answer. Where it was pointed out that one need not be subtle in appreciating how they capitalize an adjective to designate a group by skin color as a 'glaring benefit.' Or should that be skin Color?

(Normally, I cite the text I am responding to, but the last comment remains a problem in light of switching javascript on and updating the page.)

Your response was lacking in substance, even allowing for the fact that you comment here every day regardless of whether you actually have anything. Glibness is not a substitute for actual criticism.

'Your response was lacking in substance'

And why would a toss off comment to someone be expected to have any substance at all?

'Glibness is not a substitute for actual criticism'

The criticism was clearly laid out in Donald Pretari's comment - you did read that comment, right? I just thought it would be mildly amusing to apply the principle of trying to find the good in anything, even after he wrote - 'When I read that someone had said the KKK needs to ride again, I knew it 's just a matter of time until we see a Research Abstract claiming to have studied the economic effects of the KKK riding again, showing that, while Whites gained a bit from the KKK riding again, an ironic consequence was that African-Americans were the big winners.'

"there is a replication crisis in social psychology". In other words, much of it might as well have been made up. I dare say some of it has been.

In fairness, only a small minority of the studies that can't be replicated were actually made up. The rest were wrong due to other reasons (randomness, bad experiment design, data mining etc.) The results are equally invalid, but the intent was different.

Maybe this post is pure buglight. To see how many people you can get to step up and say "ha, the liberals are racist just like us."

I love your use of the word "buglight" and am stealing it.

"ha, the liberals are racist just like us."

They're not going to say that because they know perfectly well 'racist' is a nonsense term used for rhetorical games.

What they are going to say is that 'liberals are jerks, as we've been telling you'. And they'll be right.

No, they are more racist. Always have been. Who's the part of 'blacks are too stupid to figure out how to get an ID so there's voter suppression'?

Voter suppression is about far more than IDs, as you've been shown many times. And I am someone who thinks voting should require showing some kind of ID.

My comment is limited to voter IDs.

Good old conservatards always up for a laugh. Apparently black people are racist against themselves for arguing against voter ID laws:

"Maybe this post is pure buglight. To see how many people you can get to step up and say "ha, the liberals are racist just like us.""

It is a pure buglight. But it's dual purpose. The other purpose is to get liberals to step up and say "But those conservatives are way worse!"

And the number of blacks in the Republican politician's audience would be, what, one, two? Why not compare liberals' actual policy proposals with conservatives' actual policy proposals and measure the reaction of blacks? Recall that during the campaign, Trump told his audience, his base, that he loves the "poorly educated" and that didn't seem to offend his base. Why is that? To be clear, there is one liberal policy proposal, a policy proposal that has come to be identified with liberals, that blacks would oppose, and for good reason. What policy proposal is that? Immigration. More immigration. Why would blacks oppose more immigration? Because blacks hold a disproportionate share of jobs at the low end of skills and pay, the kind of jobs many immigrants get. Of course, more immigration is a policy our host supports. Does that mean our host is a liberal? Or a racist? That's absurd.

Evolution by other means

"they patronize minorities stereotyped as lower status and less competent"

This is the real problem with this paper. This mood affiliation sentence assumes changing speech patterns is patronizing. But based on voting patterns it seems to work. How bout dat?

I predict a lot of comments for this post because Tyler is a conservative that loves to troll the left these days. But I remember when the old dotard would question conservative papers...

In terms of what the right wing even is these days,

To be honest I am unsure about what mental model I should have for self-described "right-wing" folk who do not respond with moral ferocity to this change. Does silence signal approval? Or is it some kind of resignation that if this is what the right is, it is what it is?

This entire comment is off the rails. It also has nothing to do with the paper, which is par for the course for your morning rants.

There are between several hundred and 3,000 Klan members in the US. Attempting to define 40-45% of the voting public as white nationalists is incredibly stupid, even for you.

Liberals are not defined by the nut that shot up a congressional softball practice.

Conservatives are not defined by a 8chan poster 10,000 miles away from the US that shot up a mosque.

You’re being ridiculous.

Two simple things out front. This study was political. Politics can be rough.

But secondly, it should seriously be impossible to *disconnect* soft speech by liberals in a minority setting from harsh speech (and worse) directed at minorities from a conservative setting.

Politics can be rough, but this is real.

Are conservatives defined by the NZ shooter, or the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, or the Charleston church shooter, or Anders Breivik?

Of course not. But, were those 4 shooters liberal or conservative themselves? Which sites did they read? Which shows did they watch? Do conservatives share some of their world view?

If you're interested in media influences:

For Breivik -

Political philosophy (he professes influence from) is mostly classical British liberal and Enlightenment philosophy, with choices that skew harder right on war and combating the authoritarian state. "The Fountainhead" and "1984" he claims influence him deeply; odd choices for anyone supposedly invested in national socialism?

Musically prefers electronica, which I guess you could say tends to be skew relatively low ethnic and generally appeals to geekier types, and classical (probably mostly for reasons of believing that it has value as "high culture" that he cares about preserving, rather than directly emotional satisfaction). Videogames wise he likes Call of Duty (military shooter) and World of Warcraft. He liked Top Gear, which most young men do because it's about a bunch of lads driving fast cars, and Dexter.

In terms of media consumption, is any of this "liberal" or "conservative"? I dunno, it mostly seems typical and mainstream with an accent on the geeky.

The 8chan killers will end up being revealed as consuming a confusing ironic blend of internet "shitposting" culture that isn't on the surface that different than you'd find on Adam Aelkus's twitter (other than being darker in tone) or Chapo Trap House and isn't particularly associated with right wing politics.

And, let's not forget that 62-yr-old white guy from the Midwest who tried to massacre the Democrat Congressmen practicing baseball! Oh, no, wait, it was Republican Congressmen. Never mind.

Are you defending pandering on moral terms? I get the cynical political strategy, but "Eat some pasta fagioli at a diner and have a photo op with Father Domenico from Staten Island, that'll get the dumb EYE-talian immigrant vote" isn't very aspirational.

Again I ask why Shifting language is condescending, patronizing, and pandering? It is the unstated assumption here that seems contradicted by evidence.

May I believe it? Yes, but it's kinda thin and woolly. Given the state of the social sciences, I vote thumbs down on this post.

I have no idea. Sure it looks like it's confirming and obvious "truth". But isn't that the bane of all shitty social science. It looks good on the surface, but it's not rigorous nor replicable.

"Libertarians, on the other hand, did not display competence downshifting and seemed unconcerned about racial differences; rather, they where more interested in talking about their Raspberry Pi projects to anyone of any race or gender who cared to listen."

Not terribly surprising. The liberal mentality sees the world as high school. They don't see people around them as autonomous earners maintaining their own households, but as pupils. They see themselves as the school administration. The condescension is built in, not tacked on.

FWIW - I would hate to be condescended to like many minorities are in the US. If I were a minority I would be outraged that people thought I needed special help to do well, I want to compete on my own terms.

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