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Melvin Stephens, Estimating Program Benefits

Perceptions of economic and behavioral differences between blacks and whites: Racial attitudes of white Americans and status generalization

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Kaplowitz, Stan A., Clifford L. Broman, and Bradley J. Fisher. 2006. "Perceptions of economic and behavioral differences between blacks and whites: Racial attitudes of white Americans and status generalization." Social Psychology Quarterly, 69(4): 367-379.

A telephone survey of Michigan residents provided statistics about the economic conditions and undesirable behavior of white Americans and asked respondents to estimate the corresponding statistics for blacks. Data from white respondents showed that the greater the perceived racial difference (PRD) in rates of undesirable behavior, the more blacks were seen as not trying to better themselves and the less blacks were viewed as experiencing discrimination. The greater the PRD in economic status, especially controlling for education, the more respondents saw racial discrimination as continuing. Controlling for the PRD in Undesirable Behavior, however, the PRD in economic status had little effect on the belief that blacks do not make effort. Implications of these results for status generalization processes are discussed. Because respondents underestimated all racial differences, accurate knowledge of racial statistics might increase both the belief that discrimination continues and the belief that blacks fail to make an effort.

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