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Testing the Implicit-Explicit Model of Racialized Political Communication

  • Gregory A. Huber (a1) and John S. Lapinski (a2)

The Implicit-Explicit (IE) model of racial priming posits that implicitly racial messages will be more effective than explicitly racial ones in priming racial predispositions in opinion formation. Is the Implicit-Explicit model supported by existing data? In “Racial Priming Revived,” Mendelberg responds to our analysis of a pair of experiments in which we found that “that implicit appeals are no more effective than explicit ones in priming racial resentment in opinion formation.” In this note we demonstrate that the concerns raised about our experiments are unfounded. Further, we show that the existing work supporting the IE model suffers from serious limitations of experimental design and implementation. Cumulatively, we find that the evidence questioning the IE model is far stronger than the evidence that supports it.Gregory A. Huber is Associate Professor of Political Science and resident fellow, Institute for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University ( John S. Lapinski is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania ( They thank the numerous colleagues who provided valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this essay, including Alan Gerber, Don Green, Diana Mutz, Rogers Smith, Paul Sniderman and Lynn Vavreck.

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Clinton, Joshua D., and John S.Lapinski. 2004. “Targeted” advertising and voter turnout: An experimental study of the 2000 presidential election. Journal of Politics66 (1): 6996.

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Valentino, Nicholas, VincentHutchings, and IsmailWhite. 2002. Cues that matter: How political ads prime racial attitudes during campaigns. American Political Science Review96 (1): 7590.

White, Ismail K.2007. When race matters and when it doesn't: Racial group differences in response to racial cues. American Political Science Review101 (2): 33954.

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Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
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