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Racial Ambivalence Theory

Racial ambivalence theory is an explanation of White people's attitudes and behavior toward Black people. The theory holds that many Whites are fundamentally ambivalent about Blacks. That is, their attitudes toward Blacks are a potent mixture of extreme positive and negative evaluations. Also, compared with their behavior toward other Whites, about whom they are not ambivalent, Whites' behavior toward Blacks is extremely positive or negative. Hence, there is an ambivalence amplification effect. Although racial ambivalence theory is grounded in race relations in the United States, it may, to some extent, be applicable in other contexts. This entry describes the theory and its application.

Background and History

Irwin Katz, his colleagues, and other social scientists noted that White people's attitudes toward Blacks in the United States are not ...

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