Research note: authoritarianism, racial resentment, and attitudes on the Colin Kaepernick protests

Kyla K. Stepp, Jeremiah J. Castle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In 2016, then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick triggered ongoing political controversies by kneeling during the United States National Anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans. Conventional wisdom holds that the public reaction to Kaepernick’s actions was driven by racial and ethnic demographics. In this research note, we suggest two social-psychological traits are key to understanding individuals’ attitudes on the Kaepernick protests: racial resentment and authoritarian personality. Using an original survey fielded in fall 2018, we show that both racial resentment and authoritarian personality were strong predictors of attitudes toward the Kaepernick protests. Furthermore, using a survey experiment, we show that the impact of each trait on attitudes toward the protests is similar regardless of whether racial and authoritarian cues were included in the question wording. The results highlight the consequences of the continuing roles of racial resentment and authoritarian personality in structuring public opinion in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Science Journal
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Symbolic racism
  • authoritarianism
  • black politics
  • protests
  • racial resentment

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