A study reported in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology (vol. 36, issue 4, April 12, 2006) showed that just a prospect’s name can influence a landlord to make housing decisions based on racial stereotypes. Researchers sent 1,115 e-mails in 2003 to Los Angeles County landlords in response to advertisements for available apartments. The e-mail queries were randomly signed using one of three names that implied either Arab, African-American, or white ethnicity. The researchers sent these e-mails over a 10-week period — six weeks before the Iraq War began and four weeks during the conflict.
The result: The e-mails that were signed using the Arab name got significantly fewer positive responses than the ones signed using the white name, and the e-mails signed using the African-American name did even worse. This pattern persisted in all rent categories, in corporate and privately owned apartment complexes, and both before and during the war in Iraq.