Faculty & Research Racial Bias in Perceptions of Disease and Policy Jan 13, 2022 By Sophie TrawalterNana-Bilkisu HabibJames N. Druckman Racial Bias in Perceptions of Disease and Policy Narratives about Africa as dark, depraved, and diseased justified the exploitation of African land and people. Today, these narratives may still have a hold on people’s fears about disease. We test this in three (pre-COVID-19) experiments. Across studies, we find that participants report greater worry about a pandemic originating in Africa (vs. elsewhere). In turn, they report greater support for travel bans and for loosening abortion restrictions. We then document these narratives in an archival study of newspaper articles of the 2015–2016 Zika pandemic. We find that articles were more negative—for example, they included more death-related words—if they mentioned Africa. Finally, we replicate the experimental results within the COVID-19 context, using a representative sample. Taken together, the studies make clear that reactions to pandemics are biased, and in a way consistent with historical narratives about race and Africa. Link to Case Areas of focus Racial Justice and Equity Social Equity Sophie Trawalter Sophie Trawalter, Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professor of Public Policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, studies phenomena related to social diversity, specifically how people navigate intergroup contact and intergroup contexts, with a particular focus on how people develop competencies and learn to thrive in diverse spaces. Read full bio Nana-Bilkisu Habib James N. Druckman Related Content Sophie Trawalter Gender Differences in Law School Classroom Participation: The Key Role of Social Context Research Even though women make up roughly half of the students enrolled in law school today, they do not take up roughly half of the speaking time in law school classes. We found that women, more than men, report backlash for speaking in class, and this difference affects their willingness to participate in the law school classroom. Confederate monuments and the history of lynching in the American South: An empirical examination Research The present work interrogates the history of Confederate memorializations by examining the relationship between these memorializations and lynching, an explicitly racist act of violence. Professors Chou and Trawalter Announced as Inaugural Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professors News The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia announces the appointment of Eileen Chou and Sophie Trawalter as inaugural Batten Family Bicentennial Teacher-Scholar Leadership Professors. Batten Faculty Recognized for Excellence in Teaching, Service, Research and Engagement News This academic year, Batten School professors won a slew of internal and external recognitions for excellence in teaching, service, research and engagement.