A new study by scholars at Pennsylvania State University, Dartmouth College, the University of Virginia, and Brigham Young University finds that that “in simple day-to-day interactions, such as sending and responding to emails, the public discriminates against Black people. This discrimination is present among all racial/ethnic groups (aside from among Black people) and all areas of the country.”
The researchers sent emails to a random list of 250,000 Americans. The emails asked recipients to respond to a brief survey. The researchers used names for senders of the emails that they believed identified them as either Black or White.
Very few people responded to the emails, considered spam by many recipients. But when the sender had a White-sounding name, they were 15 percent more likely to receive a response than emails where the sender had a Black-sounding name.
The disparities occurred in all areas of the country and among all racial and ethnic groups except for when the recipients were African Americans. Republicans, Independents, and Democrats all were less likely to respond to emails from senders who had Black-sounding names.
“We were motivated by the old adage ‘actions speak louder than words,’” said John Holbein, a professor of public policy, politics, and education at the University of Virginia and co-author of the study. “It may be important to think about biases that people harbor, but our research addresses the ones that manifest in action.”
The full study, “Are Americans Less Likely to Reply to Emails From Black People Relative to White People?” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. It may be accessed here.