Aversive Racism is a theory proposed by Samuel L. Gaertner & John F. Dovidio (1986) based on the idea that evaluations of racial/ethnic minorities are characterized by a persistent avoiding of any interaction whatsoever with that of other racial and ethnic groups.
Aversive racism is a term coined by Joel Kovel to describe the subtle racial behaviors of any ethnic or racial group act who rationalize their aversion to a particular group based on majority rules and stereotypes.
People who behave in an aversively racial way have beliefs in egalitarianism, but will often deny their racially motivated behavior, or shift behavior when dealing with a member of a minority group. Most of this behavior is considered to be implicit or subconscious.
Throughout the history of the United States, racism and discrimination has been at the forefront of the nation’s problems. With the Civil Rights Movement in 1960 and an ever increasingly multiethnic and multicultural population, American society has become more accepting of people from different ethnicities and backgrounds. Nonetheless, racism continues to exist today, in a more contemporary manner with more discreet and subtle approaches. Gaertner and Dovidio’s 1986 theory of aversive racism shows how racism has molded and come to take shape today.
Aversive racism is characterized by a conflict between the denial of personal prejudice and unconscious negative feelings and beliefs, which may be rooted in normal psychological processes (such as social categorization).