Perceptions of Harm and Benefit Predict Judgments of Cultural Appropriation

Mosley, Ariel J.; Solomon, Larisa Heiphetz; White, II, Mark H.; Biernat, Monica

What factors underlie judgments of cultural appropriation? In two studies, participants read 157 scenarios involving actors using cultural products or elements of racial/ethnic groups to which they did not belong. Participants evaluated scenarios on seven dimensions (perceived cultural appropriation, harm to the community from which the cultural object originated, racism, profit to actors, extent to which cultural objects represent a source of pride for source communities, benefits to actors, and celebration), while the type of cultural object and the outgroup associated with the object being appropriated varied. Using both the scenario and the participant as the units of analysis, perceived cultural appropriation was most strongly associated with perceived greater harm to the source community. We discuss broader implications for integrating research on inequality and moral psychology. Findings also have translational implications for educators and activists interested in increasing awareness about cultural appropriation.


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Social Psychological and Personality Science

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June 4, 2024