“Shopping While Black”: Examining Racial Discrimination in a Retail Setting1


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    The authors gratefully acknowledge Maggie Rosenfeld and Steven Rosati for their help with data collection. The authors also thank Alison Carson, Craig Johnson, Robin Valeri, Jason Schreer, Gary Weinrib, and Michele Gelles for their helpful comments in preparing the manuscript.

George Schreer, Department of Psychology, Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY 10577. E-mail: schreerg@mville.edu


To investigate racial discrimination in the marketplace, we conducted a field experiment to examine both overt and subtle forms of retail discrimination. “Customers” browsing in high-end retail stores asked a salesperson if they would remove a security sensor from a pair of sunglasses prior to trying them on in front of a mirror. Although the request to remove the sensor was granted in all conditions, the salespersons showed greater levels of suspicion (i.e., staring, following) in the Black conditions, especially in the male-group condition. These findings are consistent with current field research examining subtle biases toward other stigmatized groups.