Study shows how race impacts our comprehension of political debates

In light of political debates, people of color with not many opposite-race relatives are more likely to not synchronize with or even agree with a discussion involving a cross-race individual, according to a recent study by Ohio State University.

As published in the peer-reviewed journal Political Communication, the research team studied 749 participants online who resided in the United States. Close to half of the participants were people of color, while the rest were whites.

The participants belonging to the group based on people of color were asked to assess if they would listen to their counterparts in a political discussion on certain issues. Ohio State researchers then asked the participants of color if they had any political conversations over the past 30 days with cross-race partners.

People of color were more likely to take part in political listening during debates than whites, but less likely to participate, however, when cross-race partners were included.

As part of a second study, the same research team probed how race played a factor in the listening of controversial issues of racial disparities. This study included 200 left-leaning whites and people of color and 200 right-leaning whites and people of color.

The results of the second study also implied that people of color found it more difficult to listen to their counterparts during political discussions. Key issues discussed involved white supremacy and racial profiling.

“Blacks often have had negative prior experiences talking about race-related issues. They’ve often encountered explicit racism or micro-aggressions that could lead them to put up defensive walls,” researchers stated.

“It suggests that getting people to identify with the feelings and ideas of people from the opposite race could be one path to more cross-race listening.”

“Together, these findings highlight the importance of race itself, racial identity, experience with cross-race interactions, and race-related topics, to the study of political listening,” the findings concluded.

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