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(Photo: Boumen Japet/Shutterstock)

When Stereotypes Cancel Each Other Out

• July 11, 2014 • 10:00 AM

(Photo: Boumen Japet/Shutterstock)

In many situations, black men find themselves at a disadvantage. Gay men, too. But black gay men?

Thanks to still-common stereotypes, both black men and gay men can find themselves at a disadvantage when applying for a job. But for black gay men, these biases can effectively cancel one another out.

That’s the conclusion of Princeton University sociologist David Pedulla, who writes in Social Psychology Quarterly that stereotypes associated with gay men (i.e., being effeminate) can counteract the negative stereotypes that whites often have about black men as being threatening, criminal, and violent.

“White gay men, on average, received salary recommendations that were $6,014 lower than white straight men.”

He conducted an experiment in which 231 white Americans evaluated male candidates for an assistant manager position at a retail store. “White gay men, on average, received salary recommendations that were $6,014 lower than white straight men,” he reports.

However, the recommended salaries of black gay men were more than $6,000 higher than those of black straight men.

“Being black and gay,” he concludes, “results in a complex combination of interacting stereotypes”—one that can work to a job seeker’s advantage.


This post originally appeared in the July/August 2014 print issue of Pacific Standard as “When Stereotypes Cancel Each Other Out.” Subscribe to our bimonthly magazine for more coverage of the science of society.

Tom Jacobs
Staff writer Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for The Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Ventura County Star.

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