Black/Brown/White Relations: Race Relations in the 1970s

By Charles V. Willie | Go to book overview

6
Attribution of Prejudice to Self
and Others *

W. Curtis Banks, Janet L. Hubbard,
and Joseph S. Vannoy

Toward an understanding of interracial behavior and prejudice, research has been directed at assessing individual attitudes and their correlates (for example, see 11). The conceptual approach has been very simple; interracial behavior of individuals has been explained through an assessment of the attitudes that underlay it. Self-report techniques have offered a means for measuring individuals' perceptions of their own attitudes, though such reports often are inconsistent with behavior (8; 7) and are believed to be contaminated by motives that distort the perception and/or the presentation of self (for instance, social desirability motives; see 2). An alternative (though not opposing) approach to the issue of racial attitudes and behavior might involve an assessment of not only self‐ perceived prejudice, but also the extent to where individuals perceive others as prejudiced.Reference-group theory and the theory of social comparison (5) would suggest that the perception of racial attitudes and behavior on the part of others (especially close or "significant" others) may profoundly affect the attitudes and behavior of the individual.Although surprisingly little research has approached the

____________________
*
The research reported here was supported in part by a National Institute of Mental Health grant, and a grant from the Social Science Research Council to W. C. Banks.

-95-

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