Political Behavior

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 911–932 | Cite as

Call to (In)Action: The Effects of Racial Priming on Grassroots Mobilization

  • Hans J. G. HassellEmail author
  • Neil Visalvanich
Original Paper


Previous work on the effects of race on the political behaviors of white Americans is beset with two problems. First, much of the work on the effect of race has looked primarily at attitudes as opposed to political action around a policy. Second, studies of the relationship between race and policy have revolved around issues for which it is inherently difficult to separate the effects of racial prejudice from conservative ideology. To address these problems, we examine the willingness of individuals to write their member of Congress in support of a non-racial political cause, which we experimentally treat with racial cues. We also experimentally present a comparison with a non-racial but similar ‘specialized’ group, which allows us to distinguish concerns about race from concerns about specialized benefits objectionable to conservatives. We show that whites with higher levels of racial resentment are less likely to act politically in support of a policy perceived as benefiting ethnic and racial minorities.


Race Priming Political participation Grassroots mobilization 



The authors are very grateful to Marisa Abrajano, Megan Becker, Chris Fariss, James Fowler, Zoli Hajnal, Aaron Hagler, Brad LeVeck, Johanna Schuster-Craig, Candis Watts Smith, and the Human Nature Group at UC-San Diego for their advice and assistance on this project. A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2012 meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association. All errors, of course, remain our own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsCornell CollegeMt. VernonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA

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