Race and Sex Differences in Reactions to a Simulated Selection Decision Involving Race-Based Affirmative Action Academic Article uri icon


  • Affirmative action policies lead to social psychological costs for the intended beneficiaries in the form of negative reactions and reduced perceptions of competence. However, most of the research has involved affi rmative action based on sex rather than race and has compared males to females rather than Blacks to Whites. Two hundred and thirty-five (235) college students completed a scenario study involving reactions to having received afellowship position based on affirmative action. The independent variables included race (Black White), sex (male, female), type of affirmative action (soft, hard), and qualifications (less or equally qualified). Data were collected on evaluations of negative affect, fairness, and competence. The results indicated that although sex-based affirmative action may result in certain social psychological costsforfemales, the same effect may not occur as afunction of race, for Blacks compared to Whites. Even in those situations where affirmative action did affect reactions of participants, competence information served as a moderator As a result, it would be premature to accept uncritically the presumption that results for affirmative action based on gender generalize to race.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Black Psychology

author list (cited authors)

  • Doverspike, D., & Arthur,, W

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Doverspike, Dennis||Arthur,, Winfred

publication date

  • May 1995