The Influence of the Confederate Flag on Perceptions of Race

White Youth Holding Confederate Flag During 1965 Selma March

Joyce Ehrlinger, E. Ashby Plant, Richard P. Eibach, Corey J. Columb, Joanna L. Goplen, Jonathan W. Kunstman, David A. Butz, “How Exposure to the Confederate Flag Affects Willingness to Vote for Barack Obama,” Political Pyschology (February 2011): 131-46.

Abstract: Leading up to the 2008 U.S. election, pundits wondered whether Whites, particularly in Southern states, were ready to vote for a Black president. The present paper explores how a common Southern symbol—the Confederate flag—impacted willingness to vote for Barack Obama. We predicted that exposure to the Confederate flag would activate negativity toward Blacks and result in lowered willingness to vote for Obama. As predicted, participants primed with the Confederate flag reported less willingness to vote for Obama than those primed with a neutral symbol. The flag did not affect willingness to vote for White candidates. In a second study, participants primed with the Confederate flag evaluated a hypothetical Black target more negatively than controls. These results suggest that exposure to the Confederate flag results in more negative judgments of Black targets. As such, the prevalence of this flag in the South may have contributed to a reticence for some to vote for Obama because of his race.  [Read the Entire Article]

3 thoughts on “The Influence of the Confederate Flag on Perceptions of Race

  1. Rob Baker

    Social Science….

    Statistics and polls can be rather fickle. The article states “The Confederate flag, in contrast, is often associated with prejudice and negativity toward Blacks (Kunstman et al., 2010)”

    Pew research center disagrees, the most common view here is no reaction. http://www.pollwatchdaily.com/tag/confederate-flag/

    A Gallup Poll in 2000 showed much of the same. http://www.gallup.com/poll/2926/americans-divided-southern-states-flying-confederate-flag.aspx

    (do not confuse this with a defense of the flag).

    There is also the issue that the broad majority of the League of the South or SCV members are actually Republican.

    I agree that the perception of the flag is complex. But I think the issue of political ideology in association with the CBF is in itself complex. I will have to read find the entire article for a more thorough review of the studies done.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      I agree with you. I have yet to finish the essay, but there are other problems with the argument – specifically the kinds of assumptions that you cite.

      Reply

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