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Testing the "Black Code": Does Having White Close Friends Elicit Identity Denial and Decreased Empathy From Black In-Group Members?

Johnson, James D.; Ashburn-Nardo, Leslie

Social psychological & personality science. Volume 5:Number 3 (2014, May); pp 369-376 -- Sage Publications

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  • Title:
    Testing the "Black Code": Does Having White Close Friends Elicit Identity Denial and Decreased Empathy From Black In-Group Members?
  • Author: Johnson, James D.;
    Ashburn-Nardo, Leslie
  • Found In: Social psychological & personality science. Volume 5:Number 3 (2014, May); pp 369-376
  • Journal Title: Social psychological & personality science
  • Subjects: Electronic journals; Personality--Periodicals; Social psychology--Periodicals; Blacks--cross-race friendships--empathy--identity denial--social networks; Dewey: 155.2
  • Rights: legaldeposit
  • Publication Details: Sage Publications
  • Abstract:

    The present experiment examined identity denial and reduced empathy for in-group (vs. out-group) targets as a function of the racial composition of their social networks. Black participants rated in-group (Black) targets as more weakly racially identified and expressed less empathy for in-group targets with cross-race close friends versus same-race close friends or no friends. Furthermore, the effect of social network composition on empathy was mediated by perceived racial identity. These findings were limited to the in-group target. Although the out-group (White) target was rated as more weakly identified when shown with cross-race close friends versus same-race close friends or no friends, neither social network composition nor perceived racial identity predicted empathy for the out-group target. These findings extend previous research on identity denial and suggest that, for Blacks, closely associating with Whites undermines the usually robust pattern of in-group empathy.


  • Identifier: System Number: LDEAvdc_100055541655.0x000001; Journal ISSN: 1948-5506; 10.1177/1948550613499938
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Physical Description: Electronic
  • Shelfmark(s): ELD Digital store

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