Changing Minds, if Not Hearts

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Can politics change how people think about racial issues without changing their sentiments or their prejudices?  Changing Minds, if Not Hearts argues that political strategies that counteract the impulse to think about racial issues in terms of which groups win and lose can build white support for minorities, even on controversial issues like affirmative action, reparations, racial profiling, and money for overwhelmingly black public schools.

We examine attitudes as they emerge in real situations swollen with racial conflict. Using survey experimentation in Mississippi, South Carolina, New Jersey, California, Michigan, and Oklahoma, we examine whether the very citizens who gave rise to the episodes of conflict would behave differently if issues were recast so as to direct attention away from the underlying conflict between groups. When the experiments call attention to double standards, evoke different ways of thinking about fairness and justice, and restructure electoral choices to offer voters greater control, white opinions do change, even if the root feelings toward minorities remain untouched.

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