A Meta-Analysis of the “Erasing Race” Effect in the United States and Some Theoretical Considerations

The “erasing race” effect is the reduction of the salience of “race” as an alliance cue when recalling coalition membership, once more accurate information about coalition structure is presented. We conducted a random-effects model meta-analysis of this effect using five United States studies (containing nine independent effect sizes). The effect was found (ρ = 0.137, K = 9, 95% CI = 0.085 to 0.188). However, no decline effect or moderation effects were found (a “decline effect” in this context would be a decrease in the effect size over time). Furthermore, we found little evidence of publication bias. Synthetically correcting the effect size for bias stemming from the use of an older method for calculating error base rates reduced the magnitude of the effect, but the it remained significant. Taken together, these findings indicate that the “erasing race” effect generalizes quite well across experimental contexts and would, therefore, appear to be quite robust. We reinterpret the theoretical basis for these effects in line with Brunswikian evolutionary-developmental theory and present a series of predictions to guide future research in this area.

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