Previous research suggests that narrow identification with one's own racial group impedes coalition building among minorities. Consistent with this research, the 2008 Democratic primary was marked by racial differences in voting preferences: Black voters overwhelmingly preferred Barack Obama, a Black candidate, and Latinos and Asians largely favored Hillary Clinton, a White candidate. We investigated one approach to overcoming this divide: highlighting one's negational identity. In two experiments simulating primary polling procedures, Asians and Latinos randomly assigned to think of and categorize themselves in negational terms (i.e., being non-White) were more likely to vote for Obama than participants focused on their affirmational identity (i.e, being Asian or Latino), who showed the typical preference for Clinton. This shift in voting preference was partially mediated by warmer attitudes towards other minority groups. These results suggest that negational identity is a meaningful source of social identity and demonstrate that whether one thinks about "who one is" versus "who one is not" has far-reaching impact for real-world decisions.

C.B. Zhong, Adam Galinsky, and M. Unzueta
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Full Citation

Zhong, C.B., Adam Galinsky, and M. Unzueta
. “Negational racial identity and presidential voting preferences.”
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
, (November 01, 2008):