The Two Faces of Linked Fate: How Survey Respondents Interpret Linked Fate Question


Scholars of race and ethnic politics have long been interested in what binds racial and ethnic group members together. One famous explanation is linked fate (Dawson 1994). We conceptualize two ways respondents might think about their ties to a racial group, linked hurt or linked progress. Linked hurt is when a respondent believes that when their group is hurt then they are hurt, while linked progress is when a respondent believes that when their group is helped then they are also helped. We compare the standard linked fate measure to our measures using a representative survey in California. We make three contributions. First, people interpret linked fate more expansively than expected by Black utility heuristic theory. Second, we provide two new novel measures that better capture the concept and outperform the original linked fate measure. Finally, we show that our measures better pick up between group heterogeneity than the traditional linked fate measure. We encourage scholars to use our measures instead of the traditional linked fate measure when the concept of interest is linked fate.