top of page

Racial Politics

In research with Robb Willer, I investigate how perceptions of threat to whites' status position affect their attitudes toward purportedly race-neutral social programs and political parties.


In related research, we examine how political appeals that subtly or explicitly evoke negative racial stereotypes harness whites' underlying racial prejudice to sway their policy views.



Wetts, Rachel and Robb Willer. 2018. “Privilege on the Precipice: Perceived Racial Status Threats Lead White Americans to Oppose Welfare Programs.” Social Forces 97(2): 793-822. doi: 10.1093/sf/soy046

Willer, Robb, Matthew Feinberg, and Rachel Wetts. “Threats to Racial Status Promote Tea Party Support among White Americans.”  SSRN Working Paper.

Wetts, Rachel and Robb Willer. 2019. “Who is Called by the Dog Whistle? Experimental Evidence that Racial Resentment and Political Ideology Condition Responses to Racially-Encoded Messages.” Socius 5:1-20.


Our research on welfare backlash and racial status threat has been covered in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, New York magazine, the Atlantic, NPR, Salon, and Vox, among others.

Our research on racial threat and support for the Tea Party has been covered in the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the Huffington Post, and NPR.

Our research on racial dog whistles has been covered in the Huffington Post. I was also invited to write an op-ed about the research for Talking Points Memo

bottom of page