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"White" or "European American"? Self-identifying labels influence majority group members' interethnic attitudes


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Principal Investigator(s):

Kimberly Rios Morrison
Ohio University
Email:rios@ohio.edu
Home page:https://sites.google.com/site/kimberlymrios/

Sample size: 600
Field period: 6/17/2009-8/25/2009

 

Abstract:

In this study, majority group members were randomly assigned to mark their race/ethnicity as either "White" or "European American" on a demographic survey, prior to answering questions about their interethnic attitudes. A control group of participants did not mark their race/ethnicity and proceeded directly to the interethnic attitudes questions. Results demonstrated that majority group members primed to think of themselves as European American were subsequently less racially prejudiced, relative to both White-primed and control participants. However, this effect was most pronounced among participants high in socioeconomic status (i.e., household income).

Hypotheses:

1. How does being induced to self-identify as "European American" (versus "White," or not self-identifying at all) influence majority group members' attitudes toward racial/ethnic minorities?

2. Does socioeconomic status influence the relationship between self-identification and majority group members' attitudes toward racial/ethnic minorities?

Experimental Manipulations:

Participants reported their race/ethnicity by checking one of several boxes, which constituted the experimental manipulation. In the White prime condition, the choices were as follows: White, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American or Pacific Islander, Black or African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Other. In the European American prime condition, the choices were identical except that "White" was replaced with "European American." In the control condition, participants did not report their race/ethnicity and proceeded directly to the dependent measures.

Key Dependent Variables:

Modern Racism Scale (McConahay, 1988): This scale consists of six items originally worded to assess prejudice against African Americans. However, we reworded the items so that they applied to ethnic minorities more generally (e.g., "Ethnic minorities are getting too demanding in their push for equal rights").

Summary of Findings:

In total, 455 majority group members (i.e., who identified as White/European American) completed the study. The condition variable was dummy coded into two separate variables, so that the European American prime condition could be compared to the White and control prime conditions separately. The household income variable was mean-centered. Then the results were submitted to a condition x household income multiple regression analysis (see Aiken & West, 1991). One participant was omitted due to a high Cook's D score (.03, or 7 SD above the sample mean).

The condition (European American vs. White prime) x household income interaction term was significant (b = .09, SE = .04), t(448) = 2.50, p = .01, as was the condition (European American vs. control prime) x household income interaction term (b = .07, SE = .03), t(448) = 2.05, p = .04. The condition (White vs. control prime) x household income interaction term was not significant (b = .02, SE = .03), t(448) = .54, p = .59. Decomposition of the significant interactions indicated that household income was associated with less racial prejudice in the European American prime condition (b = -.07, SE = .03), t(448) = -2.83, p < .01, but not in the White (b = .02, SE = .03), t(448) = .69, p = .49, or control (b = -.001, SE = .02), t(453) = -.06, p = .95, prime conditions. Moreover, testing the effects of prime condition at high (+ 1 SD) and low (- 1 SD) levels of household income revealed that high-income participants were less prejudiced in the European American prime condition than in either the White (b = .38, SE = .20), t(448) = 1.87, p = .06, or control (b = .41, SE = .20), t(448) = 2.04, p = .04, prime condition. Low-income participants, by contrast, did not differ in racial prejudice as a function of condition (ps > .10).

References:

Rios Morrison, Kimberly and Adrienne H. Chung. 2011. "White" or "European American"? Self-identifying labels influence majority group members' interethnic attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
47:165–170


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